Semester of Graduation

August 2021


Master of Science (MS)


Nutrition and Food Sciences

Document Type



The United States Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) provided children under the age of 18 in low-income areas 145 million free meals in 2018 through summer feeding sites. Food safety issues arise for Louisiana feeding sites due to time-temperature controlled foods served, weather patterns in Louisiana, seasonal staff and short operation time, and lack of equipment. The purpose of this study was to assess food safety practices at Louisiana feeding sites through observational study with intention to compare food practices at institutional and noninstitutional sites. A rubric following USDA food safety guidelines based on categories: hot holding, cold holding, cross contamination prevention, personal hygiene, and cleaning was developed for observations. Data obtained during observations (n=22) was compiled to determine frequent practices. Sixteen institutional and six noninstitutional sites were observed. Common violations include lack of temperature checking, lack of proper equipment, and personal hygiene. Noninstitutional sites all had improper holding, mostly due to lack of equipment. This study demonstrated the need for targeted food safety educational materials.

The COVID-19 pandemic put the food system on alert and identified food safety as an important pillar in this crisis. Popular media is used as a disseminator of food safety information for public use; YouTube being one of the most highly trafficked websites on the internet. However, YouTube can contain misleading or untrustworthy information that contradicts validated information. This study evaluates food safety information circulated on YouTube during the COVID-19 pandemic. A video search on YouTube using the keywords “Food and COVID-19,” “Food safety and COVID-19,” and “Groceries and COVID-19” was conducted. In total, 85 videos from the U.S. and Canada were evaluated. More than half (59%) of videos presented handwashing procedures. Multiple and different produce washing procedures were also shown throughout videos. Food was not considered hazardous by 33% of the videos, but 20% mentioned that food packaging is potentially hazardous. Most videos had a host or guest who was a healthcare professional or professor/expert in their field. These findings demonstrate the need to develop educational interventions that increase awareness of social media as a tool for food safety dissemination.

Committee Chair

Xu, Wenqing