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Sources: Doug Powell, 785-317-0560, dpowell@k-state.edu;
and Katie Filion, kfilion@k-state.edu
News release prepared by: Erinn Barcomb-Peterson, 785-532-6415, ebarcomb@k-state.edu

Monday, Nov. 30, 2009

K-STATE GRADUATE STUDENT HELPING NEW ZEALAND WITH DEVELOPMENT OF NATIONAL GRADING SYSTEM FOR HYGIENE IN RESTAURANTS, FOOD BUSINESSES

MANHATTAN -- Diners in New Zealand will have a Kansas State University graduate student to thank when they're able to make more informed choices about where they eat.

Katie Filion, a master's student in biomedical science, has a thesis project with global implications. She is investigating New Zealand's options for a national food business or restaurant hygiene grading system. She is working on the yearlong project with a $20,000 grant from the New Zealand Food Safety Authority.

Filion is doing her research in New Zealand and will return to K-State in May 2010 to complete her thesis with adviser Doug Powell, K-State associate professor of food safety.

New Zealand's piecemeal use of grading systems means that it's difficult for diners to check out an establishment's food safety record. Filion said a consistent grading system throughout New Zealand will make consumers less confused and will bolster confidence in the country's inspection systems. And with a population of about 4 million, New Zealand is an ideally sized country for such a project, Filion said.

"No one has determined the most effective way to present inspection results to the public but a good system has several characteristics," Filion said. "It should have clear guidelines about what earns a good or bad grade and should communicate to diners the risk of eating at a particular restaurant."

The ways restaurant inspection disclosure systems reach consumers with food safety information was the topic of a review article that Filion and Powell published recently in the Journal of Foodservice. Because diners choose restaurants in part for their perception of the establishment's hygiene, Filion and Powell suggest that restaurants would be wise to market themselves to potential customers in terms of their food safety inspection records.

The article is available online at http://ow.ly/DtFx