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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania » Eastern Regional Research Center » Food Safety and Intervention Technologies Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #345515

Research Project: Bacterial Pathogens in Regulated Foods and Processing Technologies for Their Elimination

Location: Food Safety and Intervention Technologies Research

Title: Developing a citizen science method to collect whole turkey thermometer usage behaviors

item DUONG, MINH - North Carolina State University
item Luchansky, John
item Porto-Fett, Anna
item WARREN, CAITLIN - Souderton Area School District
item CHAPTMAN, BENJAMIN - North Carolina State University

Submitted to: Journal of Food Protection
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/1/2019
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: The primary goal of this study was to collect information on thermometer use by consumers. Fifty seven high school students were asked to use a thermometer and to take photographs of turkey being cooked by their family for a Thanksgiving meal. Self-reported data collection is often inaccurate, exaggerated, and unreliable due to bias by the data collector. For this reason, we recruited non-scientists to gather/interpret data and then to take digital photographs while doing so as a verification method. Using this intervention method, referred to as Citizen Science, about 79% (n=45) of the 57 participants reported their family used a thermometer to determine doneness of the whole turkey they cooked on Thanksgiving. Most respondents (44%, n=21) used a dial thermometer and most of the 57 participants (52%, n=30) cooked their turkey to an internal temperature of >165degreesF. These findings confirm that Citizen Science serves as a reliable and accurate self-reporting data collection tool because it allows for qualitative data to be analyzed via text and picture, with the latter serving a vehicle for verifying accuracy.

Technical Abstract: Citizen Science is a unique intervention method where non-scientists gather and interpret data in collaboration with professional scientists. The purpose of this study was to identify thermometer usage behaviors through different means of data collection. A food safety lesson on minimum internal temperature and correct thermometer usage was taught in high school Family and Consumer Sciences classes before Thanksgiving break. As homework, students inputted data into a web-based form on thermometer usage and endpoint temperatures. Students were asked for picture evidence of the turkey. If a photo was not provided, they were asked how they knew it was done. Results were coded, interpreted, and compared to a broader population from the International Food Information Council’s (IFIC) 2016 Food and Health Survey. Forty-five of 57 (79%) of respondents used a thermometer for their turkey. Four types of thermometers were used: dial (n=21), pop-up (n=13), digital (n=11), liquid (n=1), and some were undetermined (n=2). Of respondents, 31% (n=18) had a minimal internal temperature of 165degreesF, 7% (n=4) had it below 165degreesF, 21% (n=12) had it between 165-180degreesF, and 21% (n=12) were undetermined. Respondents showed different thermometer placements for measuring in pictures where 30% (n=17) placed it in the breast, 21% (n=12) in the thigh, and 5% (n=3) undetermined. There is a high usage of thermometers compared to IFIC’s data on thermometer usage. Our data confirms that Citizen Science is a viable classroom intervention method and a tool to collect data effectively using pictures by providing interactions for participants with food safety information and using a primary source of information rather than self-reported data, respectively.