Objective: To determine beliefs about and barriers to good food safety practices among clients of a Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC Program).
Design: Five audiotaped focus groups.
Setting: A large WIC Program clinic in Miami, Florida.
Participants: Thirty-two women attending the clinic who were demographically similar to clinic clients.
Phenomenon of interest: Beliefs about, barriers to, and motivators for good food safety practices.
Analysis: Focus groups were audiotaped and transcribed. Transcripts were independently analyzed by three researchers to identify recurring ideas within and between groups.
Results: Participants did not perceive foodborne illnesses as a major problem or believe that foodborne illnesses usually resulted from poor food handling practices at home. The hardest practice to follow was using a cooking thermometer. Leaving perishable foods and baby bottles outside the refrigerator for longer than 2 hours were additional problems reported. Participants reported that their babies' health was the most important motivator to good food safety practices and that women may be most receptive to food safety education during their first pregnancy.
Conclusions and implications: WIC clients in this clinic have several deficiencies in their food safety knowledge and practices. The WIC Program may be well positioned to help its clients, particularly pregnant women, improve food safety practices.