Hand hygiene compliance in food manufacturing: food safety culture and intervention development (PhD Scholarship)

Applications for this scholarship are now closed.

Hand hygiene compliance in food manufacturing: food safety culture and intervention development

Zero2Five Food Industry Centre, Cardiff Metropolitan University and Castell Howell Foods Ltd, Cross Hands 

Project Team:

Dr Elizabeth Redmond, Senior Research Fellow, (Academic Lead Supervisor)
Dr Ellen Evans, Junior Research Fellow, (Academic Supervisor)
Mr Ian Stone, Castell Howells Compliance Manager (Company Project Supervisor)
Mrs Helen Taylor, Food Industry Centre Technical Director (Technical Adviser)
Dr Rowena Jenkins, Microbiologist (Technical Adviser)

The ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre (FIC) is an internationally recognised centre for food safety research and is a partner in Food Innovation Wales with substantial links to the Welsh food industry with long-term projects funded by the Welsh Government and European Union. Castell Howell Foods Ltd. is a large food and drink, manufacturing and processing business (FDMPB) that supplies low and high-risk food products to major retailers and food service outlets across Wales. This 3 year research post, based within the ‘FIC Food Safety Research Group’, provides an exciting opportunity to achieve a PhD and obtain invaluable industry experience working with a successful food manufacturer.

Project aims:

To assess food safety culture, hand hygiene behaviours and microbiological risks within food sector production sites in Castell Howell Foods Ltd.

To design, develop, implement and evaluate a bespoke hand hygiene strategy with tailored interventions and training mechanisms, based on the organisational culture of Castell Howell Foods Ltd.

Project background and outline:

Hand hygiene is reported to be the single most effective way to prevent the spread of pathogens and communicable diseases and is essential in FDMPBs to ensure food safety. Food handlers can cause contamination of the food production environment through the transmission of pathogens from hands to surfaces and food products. Although data exist detailing hand hygiene at food retail, information detailing the hand hygiene practices of food handlers in FDMPBs is lacking. Factors that can affect the implementation of adequate hand hygiene practices in FDMPBs include the role of management in providing suitable and appropriate facilities for hand hygiene practices, the food safety culture of FDMPBs and the food safety knowledge and attitudes of food handlers. Cognitive research structured using concepts defined by food safety culture, is required to explore potential factors that influence hand hygiene behaviours, including identification of differences between hygiene/engineering staff and food handlers and identification of the potential barriers that exist for staff to adequately implement hand hygiene practices. This, combined with observed the hand hygiene behaviours can be used to inform development of bespoke training mechanisms and interventions tailored to specific company needs.

Cumulatively, this study will focus upon a novel assessment of food safety culture, behaviours (pre-production, during production and post-production) and microbiological risks related to hand hygiene within Castell Howell Foods Ltd. Tailored company data will inform development, implementation and evaluation of a bespoke hand hygiene training strategy including tailored company specific interventions.

Roles and responsibilities

  • Working with academics and project advisers the appointed student will be responsible for:
  • Undertaking academic literature reviews and review of company documentation
  • Microbiological / environmental sampling and baseline assessments of hand decontamination facilities
  • Assessment of behaviours and cognitive influences related to hand hygiene practices and food safety culture using research methods such as direct observation, survey techniques and focus groups
  • Design, development and evaluation of a bespoke, company training strategy with tailored interventions appropriate for company group partners in a variety of food sectors
  • Implementation and evaluation of the developed training strategy
  • Publishing and presentation of study findings in peer-reviewed literature and at scientific conferences

Candidate requirements:

  • Applicants must have a good undergraduate degree in food science / technology, microbiology, environmental health or closely related area. Awareness of concepts related to food safety culture is desirable but not essential.
  • The project will involve working in food manufacturing / processing sites so there is a need for candidates to be familiar with food industry processes, food safety and quality management systems and industry relevant food safety / hygiene training courses and approaches.
  • Food industry experience would be desirable.
  • As the project will be split between the Food Industry Centre and Castell Howell Foods Ltd (Cross Hands), it is also important that the candidate has a current driving licence.
  • Knowledge and experience of research approaches is desirable.
  • It is essential that the candidate display a good level of both verbal and written communication skills.
  • Candidates will be required to be motivated and able to work independently as well as collaborate, interact and work with employees from management/supervisory roles as well as factory floor workers/food handlers.


  • The scholarship offers all eligible participants (student):
  • KESS PhD Scholarship holders do not pay fees
  • A monthly stipend in line with RCUK rates: 3 years of funding @ £14,198 per year for PhD
  • An additional budget to support your research of £3,000 for travel, conference attendance, minor equipment, consumables and training
  • An opportunity to access a suite of higher level skills training & attendance at a residential KESS Grad School
  • A minimum of 30 days a year working with the company partner on their allocated project
  • Students must complete & submit their thesis within 3.5 years for PhD
  • All participants must complete the KESS Postgraduate Skills Development Award

To be eligible for the scholarship, applicants should have UK or EU Citizenship, and be resident in the Convergence Area of Wales on appointment (or be studying in or working in the convergence area immediately prior to starting the project), and should have the right to work in the region on qualification. Residence confirmed by providing documents such as driver’s licence, tenancy agreement or recent statement from bank or building society.

A map with eligible convergence areas can be found here:

Note: West Wales and the Valleys (highlighted in yellow)

To obtain an application form (Participant Application Form) and for further information regarding KESS 2 at Cardiff Metropolitan University please access: http://www.cardiffmet.ac.uk/research/Pages/KESSII.aspx

To apply, please submit completed application form to Dr Elizabeth Redmond: eredmond@cardiffmet.ac.uk 

by 27th November, 2017

Interviews for this post will take place during December, 2017, with a proposed commencement during January, 2018.

Funding Notes:

Supported by Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships 2 (KESS 2) which is an All Wales higher level skills initiative led by Bangor University on behalf of the HE sector in Wales. It is part funded by the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) convergence programme for West Wales and the Valleys.