Childcare Food Handling Employees’ Perceived Barriers and Motivators to Follow Food Safety Practices

Abstract

Each year millions of children are enrolled in center-based childcare. Childcare employees are tasked with handling over half the children’s weekly meals. Proper food handling practices are crucial in mitigating this high-risk population’s risk of foodborne illness. The purpose of this study was to identify childcare food handling employees’ (n = 278) perceived barriers and motivators to follow recommended food safety practices. Six important barriers and 14 key motivators to following recommended food safety practices were identified. Important barriers pertained to time restraints, workloads, and lack of understanding of the importance of following proper food safety practices. Key motivators were focused on children’s safety, available supplies, communication, and food safety training/information. Employee and facility characteristics were shown to influence perceived importance of barriers and motivators to following food safety practices. Childcare directors should review scheduling and job duties of employees as the majority of identified barriers focused on “work pace” and “time restraints.” Directors should also attempt to increase food safety communication through practical situational training, written food safety policies, and use of food safety signage to increase understanding of the importance of proper food safety practices. Ensuring proper supplies are available is necessary.

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Correspondence to Joel Reynolds.

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Reynolds, J., Rajagopal, L. Childcare Food Handling Employees’ Perceived Barriers and Motivators to Follow Food Safety Practices. Early Childhood Educ J 46, 477–485 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-017-0885-3

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Keywords

  • Barriers
  • Childcare
  • Food safety
  • Motivators