A survey study to investigate food handler’s knowledge, attitudes and behaviour towards food safety and food practices in restaurants in Liverpool.

  • Ben Kingston
Keywords: Food safety, Foodborne illness, food business, Food handler, Food hygiene, Knowledge, Attitude, Behaviour, Practices, Organisational culture


Food establishments are on the rise in the United Kingdom, producing a wide variety of cuisine to cater for a variety of tastes in a global market. A large majority of the population will experience a foodborne disease at some point in their lives, and in 2018 alone there were estimated to be 2.4 million FBD-related cases in the UK resulting in 180 deaths per year. Local Authorities monitor and inspect these establishments periodically, however recent constraints have seen a decline in resources (staff, money, time) that aid the delivery of food safety controls. In order to develop the most effective methods for improving food safety practices, it is important to examine where the risks are coming from. The aim of this research study was to explore food handlers’ knowledge, attitudes, and behaviour towards food safety and food handling practices in restaurants within Liverpool. This quantitative study used an online multiple-choice questionnaire to gather data from the target population of food handlers and to identify any common themes between participants. Convenience and snowballing sampling methods were used to gain responses from 52 participants. The data gathered from the survey was analysed using a combination of Microsoft Excel and SPSS version 28. Participant’s demographics were also gathered to determine similarities or differences between education, training and work experience. The results of the questionnaire are presented in the form of pie charts, bar graphs and scatter plots. Statistical tests were also performed using One way ANOVA tests to determine any statistical significance of results. The results of the study reveal that food handlers in Liverpool food businesses have a generally satisfactory level of food safety knowledge. Their attitudes expressed in the questionnaire demonstrated a strong positive approach with overall minimal risky behaviours towards food safety and hygiene practices. The majority of participants believe food safety is important to them and one of their main responsibilities within the workplace. However, the results show that certain areas of knowledge surrounding harmful pathogens (bacteria) were lacking. A significant amount were unaware how to best control bacterial growth on food, and how difficult it can be to identify contaminated foods. Even though the results show a protective behaviour towards food safety, some aspects of behaviour like coming to work when sick and using their phone in food handling areas need to be emphasised. In determining food handlers’ knowledge, attitudes and behaviours towards food safety, several recommendations can be made. These include the development of a more effective training regime where theory is combined with practice and risk-based approach; and the necessary systems and resources are in place to correctly implement food safety. To improve food handlers’ knowledge, attitudes and behaviours towards food safety the researcher recommends that food establishments focus on a combination of processes such as behavioural change ideas and offering support, motivation and positive reinforcement. This, combined with the positive attitudes and behaviours of senior managers can encourage a food safety culture within food establishments.