Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Food, Nutrition, and Culinary Science
Dr. Angela M. Fraser
Dr. Xiuping Jiang
Dr. Bridgit Corbett
Microgreens are the young, edible seedlings of various vegetables, spices, herbs, and considered as the intermediate stage of sprouts and mature greens, suggesting microgreens may share similar food safety risks with both of these produce. Even though there are no known outbreaks due to contaminated microgreens, multiple product recalls have been reported, indicating food safety risks associated with microgreens should not be underemphasized. A recent national survey of the U.S. microgreens industry reported that almost half of growers (48.3% of 176) learned to grow microgreens by viewing websites and videos on the internet.1 However, it is unknown whether the content related to growing microgreens is grounded in scientific evidence and clearly presented. The aim of this research was to conduct a content analysis to determine the accuracy and quality of existing microgreens training materials available on the internet.
Microgreens training materials were collected using two popular search engines – Google and YouTube. Three coding manuals were created to evaluate included artifacts. One was used to determine the accuracy of the content and was based on FDA Food Safety Modernization Act – Produce Safety Rule (FSMA PSR). The other two manuals were used to determine the quality of Google and YouTube artifacts. Three trained coders contributed to the coding process. Each artifact was coded independently by two coders for accuracy and quality.
A total of 223 artifacts (i.e., 86 Google and 137 YouTube) were selected for the analysis. The accuracy results revealed that both online sources had minimally covered the food safety principles in the FSMA PSR. Several areas were completely unaddressed, such as water testing, worker training, environmental monitoring, and record-keeping. Additionally, several important areas were minimally covered (e.g., the water source, worker health and hygiene, pest control, and risks from animals), or were not sufficiently addressed with accurate details (e.g., the treatment of grow medium and proper environmental/storing conditions), which gave very limited food safety information to the microgreens growers. In addition, some of the reported food safety information gave unclear recommendations, such as the parameters of the sources (i.e., grow medium/water/seeds); or conflicting opinions across artifacts, such as the requirement of washing microgreens, cleaning and sanitization methods, seed treatment methods, and waste management.
The Google and YouTube quality scoring systems resulted in a mean quality score of 15.81 and 22 of a maximum score of 28, respectively. The most common deficiency observed across all artifacts was it was unknown if the content developers were subject matter experts. In addition, further quality improvements were noted in Google artifacts, such as using relevant images, meeting accessibility requirements, and providing learner assessments. The quality of YouTube artifacts could be improved by varying visual and auditory components and by using time stamps. Our findings can inform and guide existing and future microgreens training contents.
Nabadawa Hewage, Supun Chathuranga, "Evaluating the Accuracy and Quality of Microgreens Training Materials Available on the Internet: A Content Analysis" (2022). All Theses. 3730.