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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Scientific Publications by FDA Staff

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J Food Prot 2014 Mar;77(3):352-8

Self-reported hand washing behaviors and foodborne illness: a propensity score matching approach.

Ali MM, Verrill L, Zhang Y


Hand washing is a simple and effective but easily overlooked way to reduce cross-contamination and the transmission of foodborne pathogens. In this study, we used the propensity score matching methodology to account for potential selection bias to explore our hypothesis that always washing hands before food preparation tasks is associated with a reduction in the probability of reported foodborne illness. Propensity score matching can simulate random assignment to a condition so that pretreatment observable differences between a treatment group and a control group are homogenous on all the covariates except the treatment variable. Using the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's 2010 Food Safety Survey, we estimated the effect of self-reported hand washing behavior on the probability of self-reported foodborne illness. Our results indicate that reported washing of hands with soap always before food preparation leads to a reduction in the probability of reported foodborne illness.

Category: Journal Article
PubMed ID: #24674424 DOI: 10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-13-286
Includes FDA Authors from Scientific Area(s): Food
Entry Created: 2014-03-29 Entry Last Modified: 2014-04-13