Food safety practices among pregnant women and mothers in the women, infants, and children program, Miami, Florida

J Food Prot. 2007 May;70(5):1230-7. doi: 10.4315/0362-028x-70.5.1230.


Pregnant women and infants are two groups at the highest risk of severe outcomes from foodborne illnesses. We surveyed adult clients of a Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) clinic serving predominately African Americans in inner-city Miami, Florida, to assess food safety practices. Eligible and consenting women completed a 23-item self-administered survey with questions concerning food handling practices around the Partnership for Food Safety Education's Fight BAC! campaign constructs of "clean", "separate" (not cross-contaminated), "cook", and "chill". Of 342 eligible clients, 299 (87.4%) consented to participate. In general, the clients' food safety practices were most problematic in the cook and chill constructs. Using a cooking thermometer, refrigerating foods within 2 h, and thawing them safely were the least commonly reported safe practices. Women who were pregnant with their first child had the lowest food safety practice scores. Of the 62 pregnant participants, 32 (51.6%) reported eating hot dogs or deli meats without first reheating them some of the time or more often, and 22 (35.5%) reported eating soft cheeses and blue-veined cheeses some of the time or more often, putting the women at risk of listeriosis. Although all women in the WIC program could benefit from food safety education, these findings indicate that women during their first pregnancy should especially be targeted for food safety education.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child, Preschool
  • Consumer Product Safety*
  • Female
  • Florida
  • Food Handling / methods*
  • Food Handling / standards
  • Food Microbiology
  • Food Services
  • Health Education / organization & administration*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Public Assistance
  • Risk Assessment*