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Abstract

Identification of core competencies for undergraduates in food safety is critical to assure courses and curricula are appropriate in maintaining a well-qualified food safety workforce. The purpose of this study was to identify and refine core competencies relevant to postsecondary food safety education using a modified Delphi method. Twenty-nine experts representing food safety professionals in academia, government, and industry were given 2 rounds of questionnaires that specified initial food safety competencies, core domains, and subdomains. Competencies were defined as a set of skills, knowledge, and abilities that correlate to success of a trainee. The framework for which competencies were classified consisted of (1) core domains, defined as broad food safety subjects; and (2) subdomains, or more specific food safety subjects. The expert panel used a 5-point Likert scale with an acceptance criterion, or consensus, of 75%, with a rating of “4” or greater. After 2 rounds of questionnaires and revisions from the expert panel, 5 core domains were established: (1) Food Production, Manufacturing, Retail, and Consumer; (2) Foodborne Hazards; (3) Public Health; (4) Legislation and Policy; and (5) Communication and Education. Specific responses from the experts highlighted areas in which further curriculum revision would be beneficial. This study provides a framework for the development of a vetted, standardized undergraduate food safety curriculum. The Delphi method, with its inclusion of professionals representing various sectors of food safety, provided relevant perspectives for curriculum design, and also allowed participants the opportunity to contribute to the education of future food safety professionals.