An examination of attitudes and knowledge of food irradiation among educators and students of food-service-related majors
Haynes, Cheryl M.
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This thesis examines attitudes and knowledge levels among students and educators in the fields of food service management, nutrition, and culinary arts. The history of food irradiation, current usage, and public attitudes toward irradiation were reviewed. The introduction of new government regulations, increased availability of foreign foods, and liability factors facing the food service industry all factor into the challenges being met by today's food service industry. Irradiated foods might be an important approach to increase the safety of food for industry and the general public. However, the general public has reservations regarding this technology. One reason is that they are not well informed or educated on the subject of irradiation. It is the purpose of this research to study the knowledge and attitudes toward irradiated foods in two special groups of food service professionals - students and educators of food service professionals. The two groups were chosen because of their potential to influence the general public. The educators are worthy of study for their ability to influence the new generation of students to new products and ideas. The students will some day become the industry personnel supplying irradiated products in a commercial setting. Previous studies have indicated a positive relationship between a high level of knowledge and a high positive attitude toward food irradiation. This research examined a series of three hypotheses testing the relationships between knowledge of, attitude toward, and willingness to buy irradiated food products. Demographic factors were examined for their possible influence upon the findings. Eighty-five students and 242 educators in Nutrition and Food Service Management responded to the survey. Findings supported the positive relationship between knowledge and attitude, knowledge and willingness to buy, and most strongly between attitude and willingness to buy. Educators had significantly higher levels of knowledge and positive attitudes toward food irradiation than students in the survey. Future studies may examine the benefits of addressing this topic more extensively in college programs and may further examine the influence of the food service industry on the general public.