Food Safety Learning in Home and Consumer Studies : Teachers' and Students' Perspectives

Abstract: The aim of this thesis was to explore food safety as part of Home and consumer studies (HCS) education in Swedish compulsory school.Firstly, a nationwide web-based questionnaire was performed among HCS teachers to obtain an overall picture of their knowledge, behaviour and attitudes regarding food safety.  The second study was a questionnaire among school Year 9 students, where the data were collected using a student response system. The questions were related to the students’ food safety knowledge and behaviour, as well as cooking habits and sources of food safety knowledge and trust. Finally, qualitative interviews were performed among HCS teachers regarding their didactic choices of teaching content.The results indicated a routine behaviour connected to cleaning practices and teaching regarding different perishable food to differ between teachers. The students’ food safety knowledge and behaviour were reported to be inadequate, especially among boys, and that students might leave school without having learnt even basic food safety principles. Mothers and thereby the home were reported to be an important as well as a trusted source of food safety knowledge, especially among the girls. Boys reported HCS to also be an important as well as trusted source, especially students that rarely or never reported to cook at home. For those students HCS must be seen as particularly valuable. To increase the students’ learning, the teaching needs to be related to the students’ everyday practices and to be more reflective in order for it to be practiced outside the HCS classroom. The teachers’ didactic choices could imply consequences for the students’ food safety learning and a need for more education and updated information for the teachers was noticed.In summary, the results indicate that risk areas related to all the Four Cs in Food safety (Cooking, Cleaning, Chilling and avoidance of Cross-contamination) need to be highlighted in HCS teaching and for food safety to become a conscious didactic choice for the teachers.  As teaching regarding food safety in HCS seem to differ it needs to be highlighted in HCS policy documents to ensure equivalent food safety learning for all students in compulsory school.