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Measuring domestic food safety

A review of the Index of Recommended Practice

Flickr - Raul.Perez.
Published: September 2016

We worked with the Food Standards Agency to help refine how they measure the nation's food safety habits over time.


This project set out to ensure the Index of Recommend Practice (IRP) - a composite measure  - was a robust tool to track change in food safety over time.

The IRP asks about a range of food safety practices and includes questions like: do you check the fridge temperature, how do you tell that food has been reheated properly, do you check use by dates on food?

Food and You is the Food Standards Agency's (FSA) national survey of reported behaviours, attitudes and knowledge relating to food issues. It provides data on the public's reported food purchasing, storage, preparation, consumption and factors that may affect these.

The FSA commissioned a peer review of the IRP in 2013, asking for feedback from both a qualitative and quantative perspective. This work aimed to review the suggestions generated by the peer review and make changes to the IRP. 


This report outlines the recommendations from the peer review, the outcomes of deliberative workshops based on these, and the eventual changes made to IRP.  


The key recommendations from the deliberative workshops were as follows:

  • Questions that measure knowledge should either be removed from the new IRP entirely or combined with the related behaviour, in order to address the issue of ascribing high scores to respondents who self-reported knowledge of recommended practice but who did not report the associated behaviour
  • Groups or pairs of questions that measure the same form of behaviour should be combined to reduce the duplication of information
  • A threshold should be applied for the number of questions a respondent must answer before a score can be derived, in order to facilitate comparisons between respondents

The revised IRP is now constructed using 16 questions from Food and You. These questions can be used to measure 10 domestic food safety behaviours. Each item is scored 1 for RP responses or 0 for non-RP. Respondents answering less than half (five) of the 10 items do not receive a score.

Download report