What was already known?

Several studies had explored children and young peoples’ knowledge and behaviours towards food hygiene and safety in the UK, Europe and USA, but studies exploring educator views were limited.

What was the aim of the study?

The aim of this study was to explore educators’ needs in relation to teaching about food hygiene and food safety across four European countries, to inform the development of educational resources to address any gaps in knowledge, skills, attitudes and beliefs.

Where did the research take place?

Qualitative interviews and focus groups with educators were conducted during November 2017 – June 2018 in four European countries: England, France, Hungary and Portugal.

What’s new?

This study found that the attitudes of educators were positive towards educating young people on food hygiene and food safety, yet there were several barriers that prevent this education from being routine in European schools including varied educator subject knowledge, lack of time to teach outside of the curriculum, lack of resources and lack of kitchen and hand hygiene facilities.

Teachers reported that social influences (culture, family, celebrities, public health campaigns, social media) can contribute to student decision making about food hygiene and food safety.

What does this mean for developing educational resources as part of the SafeConsume project?

When developing educational resources, barriers such as time, cost, and lack of facilities need to be considered; a combination of short activities and lesson plans including practical cooking lessons, watching videos, role play, games and apps will facilitate implementation. Food hygiene and food safety messages at home and at school need to be consistent, therefore resource developers should seek endorsement from influencers in food and social media like celebrity chefs to ensure the whole family are learning the same key messages.

What does this mean for schools, teachers and Ministries of Education and Health?

The findings of this study provide evidence for the need to include food hygiene and food safety topics into the curriculum. Embedding these topics in the curriculum would allow teachers to prioritise delivering these important topics and help reduce the burden of foodborne illness on public health.

Schools should deliver key food hygiene and food safety messages through the curriculum, daily routines and whole school initiatives to tackle foodborne illness. Appropriate hand hygiene facilities are required in schools so that students and educators can follow appropriate hygiene rules prior to eating or preparing food. Posters and reminders throughout the school and activities to do at home will not only reinforce appropriate hand and food hygiene messages to students but also spread these messages to educators and visitors at the school and home environment.

A teacher training intervention that is accessible across Europe to food, science and technology teachers would be a useful addition to their continuous professional development to increase their knowledge, confidence and skills to deliver these important health topics.

What next?

The findings of this study have been used to inform development of:

Lesson plans and additional interactive materials including:

  • User journey
  • Food Safety vs. Food Quality
  • Useful and Harmful Microbes
  • Outbreak Investigation
  • Food Safety Facts
  • Food Safety Pledge
  • Recip-e-Book
  • Debate kit
  • Food Journey Animation

Educator training including:

  • Overview and links
  • Session 1: Teaching food hygiene - An introduction
  • Session 2: Microbiological aspects
  • Session 3: Food labels
  • Session 4: Infection transmission

These materials have been developed with input from partners in France, Denmark, England, Greece, Hungary, Portugal). Webpages have been created to host the translated materials on the corresponding country’s pages of the e-Bug website (https://e-bug.eu/).

Link to article

ELEY, C., LUNDGREN, P. T., KASZA, G., TRUNINGER, M., BROWN, C., HUGUES, V. L., IZSO, T., TEIXEIRA, P., SYEDA, R., FERRE, N., KUNSZABO, A., NUNES, C., HAYES, C., MERAKOU, K. & MCNULTY, C. 2021. Teaching young consumers in Europe: a multicentre qualitative needs assessment with educators on food hygiene and food safety. Perspect Public Health, 1757913920972739.


Who were the key researchers or people involved?

Charlotte Eley (DH PHE), Pia Touboule Lundgren (CHUN), Gyula Kasza (NFCSO), Monica Truninger (ICSUL), Carla Brown (DH PHE), Virginie Lacroix Hugues (CHUN), Tekla Izso (NFCSO), Paula Teixeira (UCP), Rowshonara Syeda (DH PHE), Nicholas Ferré (CHUN), Atilla Kunszabo (NFCSO), Cristina Nunes (UCP), Catherine Hayes (DH PHE), Kyriakoula Merakou (UWA), Cliodna McNulty (DH PHE)

DH PHE - Department of Health - Public Health England, UK; CHUN - Nice University Hospital, France; NFCSO - National Food Chain Safety Office, Hungary; ICSUL - Instituto de Ciencias Sociais da Universidade De Lisboa, Portugal; UCP - Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Portugal; UWA - National School of Public Health, University of West Attica, Greece.

Press and public relations speaker SafeConsume