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ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre PhD Studentship

​ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre PhD Studentship Job Description

Determination of food safety culture and behavioural compliance in Welsh catering establishments: Development of targeted approaches for improvement

Project Team:     
Dr. Elizabeth Redmond, Senior Research Fellow, Food Industry Centre, (Director of Studies)
Dr. Ellen Evans, Research Fellow, Food Industry Centre, (Academic Supervisor)
Dr. Claire Haven-Tang, Associate Dean (Research), Cardiff School of Management (Academic Supervisor)
Dr. Ambikesh Jayal, Senior Lecturer, Cardiff School of Computing (Academic Supervisor)

The proposed work is a multidisciplinary collaboration between the ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre (FIC)(Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences), Welsh Centre for Tourism Research (Cardiff School of Management) and the Department of Applied Computing and Engineering (Cardiff School of Technologies). This 3-year research studentship post, based within the ‘FIC Food Safety Research Group’, provides an exciting opportunity for a scholar to achieve a PhD and obtain invaluable industry experience in the Welsh catering sector.


Project background:
In the UK, half a million cases of foodborne disease, linked to known pathogens, and more than half of all outbreaks are linked to catering establishments (Jones et al. 2017). The catering industry has been described as complex, dynamic and diverse, as it includes different types of businesses that produce and serve food (Griffith, 2000). Food safety compliance in such establishments is essential to maintain public health, and this can be influenced by a multitude of factors including business size, organisational structure, physical design, resource availability, staffing, inspection frequency and factors associated with food safety culture. In recent years, food safety culture has emerged with increased importance in the food industry and it has been suggested that in foodservice (catering) outlets where food safety culture is ‘enhanced’, food-handlers are likely to make fewer violations (Levy de Andrade et al. 2020), thus reducing the risk of foodborne disease incidents. To date, no national qualitative and quantitative food safety culture research has been undertaken in Wales. Therefore, the proposed study will initially obtain an in-depth cognitive understanding of food safety culture in catering establishments in Wales. Data will be used to prioritise catering sector needs associated with food safety non-compliance, food safety culture assessment and cumulatively, will inform the focus of latter stages of the study.  

Behavioural analysis, in conjunction with understanding cognitive influences, plays an important role in (1) understanding food safety compliance in the food industry and (2) development of practice-specific, intervention needs with tailored design. Food safety culture is reported to have a positive relationship with employees’ behaviour (De Boeck et al. 2017) and performance analysis of targeted food safety behaviours is of considerable importance for this study. Previous FIC research has conducted video-observation studies in the kitchen environment and in food manufacturing (Redmond, 2002; Evans and Redmond, 2018; Evans et al. 2020); such data is valuable, but due to the approach, provides data that is not indicative of current food safety performance, a factor that is of relevance to the catering industry and food manufacturers. Industry requires real-time information regarding food safety compliance, such as handwashing.

There has been emerging interest and exploration of application of artificial intelligence (AI) in the food industry in recent years (Seymour, 2019; Friedlander and Zoellner, 2020; Tan, 2020). Cardiff Met research has determined Welsh food caterer and manufacturer perceptions of the benefits, acceptability, practicalities and concerns regarding application of the intelligent technology (namely AI and machine-learning (ML) in food environments; findings indicated that catering managers were receptive to use of AI/ML to monitor food safety compliance and focus resources for training purposes (Haven-Tang et al. 2020). Use of AI and ML to determine handwashing compliance has been piloted in Cardiff School of Technologies, resulting in initial development of digital signal processing approaches and creation of algorithms to enable the computer to ‘learning’ patterns of handwashing; a feasible application of the approach to specific cross contamination behaviours has been suggested (Jayal et al. 2020). In the proposed study, catering digital footage of specific food safety behaviours will be obtained as part of Welsh caterer case study analyses associated for food safety culture determination; AI and ML technologies will be further developed to ascertain compliance of specific food safety behaviours (hand hygiene and cross contamination).

Cumulatively, data obtained from the Welsh catering sector regarding food safety culture and associated behavioural compliance of hand hygiene and cross contamination behaviours will inform development and evaluation of targeted food safety culture improvement mechanisms to increase implementation of risk-reducing behaviours and reduce incidence of foodborne disease.


Project aims:
To assess the food safety culture in catering establishments in Wales and utilise novel technologies to increase understanding of specific food safety behaviours in such settings; data will be used to inform targeted food safety intervention development.


Key project objectives:

  • To undertake an in-depth review of food safety performance, cognitive influences and food safety culture literature in catering settings.
  • Exploration of factors that influence Welsh caterer food safety culture from management, food handler and stakeholder perspectives, using qualitative approaches. 
  • Quantitative assessment of food safety culture cognitive influences in catering establishments in Wales.                         
  • Implementation of in-depth case study analyses of factors influencing food safety culture in Welsh catering establishments.
  • Assessment and observational analysis of specific food safety behaviours using digital footage from Welsh catering businesses using novel technologies, including AI and ML.
  • Utilisation of case study data to develop, pilot a targeted mechanism to improve Welsh caterer’s food safety culture and implementation of key food safety behaviours.
  • Evaluation of the acceptability and effectiveness of the targeted food safety culture improvement mechanism.


Roles and responsibilities
Working with food safety, hospitality and computing academics, the appointed student will be responsible for: 

  • Carrying out research towards a doctoral degree.
  • Undertaking academic literature reviews.
  • Determining management, food-handlers and stakeholders cognitive influences associated with food safety culture in Welsh catering settings.
  • Assessment of food safety behaviours related to targeted food safety culture components using notational analysis, qualitative and quantitative research methods and a novel artificial intelligence approach.
  • Development of data driven, targeted interventions to improve food safety culture and specific components of food safety performance in the Welsh catering sector.
  • Publishing and presentation of study findings in peer-reviewed literature and at scientific conferences.


Candidate requirements:

  • Applicants must have a good undergraduate degree and master’s qualification in food science / technology, microbiology, environmental health or closely related area.
  • Possession of specialist food safety knowledge and concepts related to food safety culture is desirable but not essential.
  • The project will involve working closely with food industry settings in the catering sector, so there is a need for candidates to be familiar with catering/hospitality processes, food safety and quality management systems and relevant food safety / hygiene training courses and approaches. 
  • Food industry experience (particularly in catering/hospitality) would be desirable. 
  • As the project will be involve visiting catering sites it is important that the candidate has a current driving licence.
  • Knowledge and experience of qualitative and quantitative research approaches are desirable; experience of data collection and basic data analysis.
  • Ability to manage research workload.
  • Ability to effectively communicate complex information.
  • IT skills: use of Microsoft Office and statistical analysis software. 
  • Ability to use personal initiative and solve problems encountered in the research context.
  • It is essential that the candidate display a good level of interpersonal skills and both verbal, written communication skills. 
  • Candidates will be required to be motivated and work independently as well as collaborate, interact and work with stakeholders and catering employees from management/supervisory roles as well as food handlers.
  • Ability to travel nationally and internationally when required.
  • The appointed scholar is expected to attend the postgraduate research induction organised by Research and Innovation Services upon enrolment.
  • The appointed scholar is expected to adhere to the postgraduate research milestones and complete a satisfactory ‘Progress Reviews’.


To obtain an application form for this post, and for further information regarding the FIC studentship, please click on the following link:

Application Deadline:   02/04/21

To apply, please submit completed application form to Dr Elizabeth Redmond:

Interviews for this post will take place via Teams during the week commencing 12/04/21, with a proposed commencement date of 26/04/21.


Funding Notes:

Supported by The ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre Studentship Scheme; eligible participants (students) are offered:

  • ZERO2FIVE FIC PhD Scholarship (fees not paid by the student).
  • A monthly stipend in line with RCUK rates: 3years of funding @£15,609.00 per year.
  • Annual £2000.00 FIC Bursary for 3years research support for commercially funded projects associated with other ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre projects.
  • An additional budget to support the research project for travel, conference attendance, minor equipment, consumables and training.
  • An opportunity to access the CardiffMet Doctoral Academy for skills training.
  • It is expected that students complete and submit the PhD thesis within 3.5 years



  • De Boeck, E., Mortier, A., Jacxsens, L., Dequidt, L. and Vlerick, P. (2017) Towards an extended food safety culture model: Studying the moderating role of burnout and jobstress, the mediating role of food safety knowledge and motivation in the relation between food safety climate and food safety behaviour. Trends in Food Science & Technology, Volume 62.
  • Evans, E. W. & Redmond, E. C. (2018) Behavioural observation and microbiological analysis of older adult consumer's cross-contamination practices in a model domestic kitchen. Journal of Food Protection. 81(4): 569–581.
  • Evans, E.W., Samuel, E.J. and Redmond, E.C. (2020) A case study of food handler hand hygiene compliance in high-care and high-risk food manufacturing environments using covert-observation. International Journal of Environmental Health Research. Jul 7:1-14.
  • Griffith, C. (2000). Food safety in catering establishments. In J. M. Farber & E. C. D. Todd (Eds.), Safe handling of foods (pp. 235– 256). New York: Marcel Dekker.
  • Haven-Tang, C., Jayal, A. and Evans (2020) Exploring the potential application of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI&ML) for assessing hand hygiene standards in catering and food manufacturing environments. Personal communication.
  • Jayal, A., Evans, E. and Haven-Tang, C (2020) Enhancing handwashing assessments with intelligent technology. Personal communication.
  • Levy de Andrade, M., Stedefeldt, E., Mariano Zanin, L. and Thimoteo da Cunha, D. (2020) Food safety culture in food services with different degrees of risk for foodborne diseases in Brazil. Food Control. Volume 112,
  • Redmond, E.C. (2002) Food safety behaviour in the home: Development, application and evaluation of a social marketing food safety education initiative. PhD thesis; University of Wales.
  • Seymour, A (2019) Could the most powerful worker in your kitchen be the one that doesn’t walk or talk? Food Service Equipment Journal. November.
  • Friedlander, A. and Zoellner, C. (2020) Artificial Intelligence Opportunities to Improve Food Safety at Retail. Food Protection Trends. July/August. p272-278.
  • Tan, A (2020) How AI can improve food safety. Computer Weekly. May. Internet Source: