Objective: To examine the association of microbial contamination of the meal preparer's hands with microbial status of food and kitchen/utensil surfaces during home preparation of a "Chicken and Salad" meal. Design and Setting: Observational home food safety assessment. Before starting meal preparation, participants' hands were tested to estimate total bacterial and coliform counts and the presence of Campylobacter, Salmonella, Listeria, and Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus). Microbiological testing was conducted on samples from kitchen/utensil surfaces, and on food ingredients obtained before and during meal preparation. Participants: Sixty Puerto Rican women residing in inner-city Hartford, CT. Main Outcome Measures: Total bacterial and coliform counts, and presence of S. aureus in target samples. Analysis: Bivariate tests and multiple logistic regression. Results: Participants considering food safety as "very important" were less likely to test positive for S. aureus on hands (P < .05). S. aureus on post-handling chicken, counter/cutting board, and salad was positively associated with S. aureus on participants' hands (P < .05). Coliform count on the counter/cutting board and sink was significantly higher at baseline when participants' hands tested positive for coliform before starting meal preparation. Conclusions and Implications: Meal preparer's hands can be a vehicle of pathogen transmission during meal preparation. © 2009 Society for Nutrition Education.
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