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ABSTRACT

The aim of this paper was to evaluate risk perception of foodborne disease by school food handlers and principals. A structured questionnaire, designed to evaluate the risk perception of foodborne disease, was applied in public school food and nutrition units in nine cities in Brazil. It was found that school food handlers and school principals had “average perceived risk” and there was no risk perception difference between them. Statistically significant differences were verified between the “recent or frequently trained” group and “never or trained more than a year ago” group of food handlers for three risk situations and overall risk score (P ≤ 0.05). It was concluded that training of the school food handlers can influence their understanding of food risk more than their education level. Risk assessment should be used to improve the training strategies. The legally mandated training is essential to guarantee food safety knowledge for school food handlers.

PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS

The paper presents the risk perception of foodborne disease in school's food handlers and principals of Brazilian National School Feeding Program. This program attends all public basic education schools, totalizing 45,6 million of students in Brazil. The school meal is an important component of student development. Considering this, assessment of food safety and the risk perception of foodborne disease and optimistic bias by school food handlers is necessary to guarantee adequate and safe meals. A paper assessing the risk perception of school food handlers using a random stratified sample had not been reported previously in the scientific literature. The understanding of risk perception can lead to better planning of training strategies and interventions.