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Kitchen Life 2 Technical report

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) commissioned Kitchen Life 2 (KL2) to understand food safety practices in household and food business operator (FBO) kitchens.

Last updated: 31 October 2023
Last updated: 31 October 2023


Special thanks is given to all individuals and businesses who took part in Kitchen Life 2, without them this research would not have been possible. 

KL2 involved collaboration between a wide range of organisations to design, deliver and review the study. 

Basis Social were the lead partner and developed the overall study design, as well as delivered the survey, interviews, behavioural analysis and reporting. Special thanks goes to Darren Bhattachary, Mel Cohen, Rosemary Pierce-Messick, Dan Lemmon, Connie Flude, Emily Fu, Ingrid Broch-Due, Sheena Thakrar, and Matt Hellon.

Leeds University delivered a literature review to inform the study, acted as advisors to the project throughout its duration, and reviewed the final reports. Special thanks goes to Dr Gulbanu Kaptan and Dr Josh Weller. Rajinder Bhandal is thanked for her help on the literature review. Masters students Ria Dhawan and Huiqi Zhu are also thanked for their contribution to the secondary analysis of KL2 data.

Lifestream undertook filming and the behavioural coding of filmed footage, as well as delivering the datafiles and a dashboard of coded behaviours. Special thanks goes to Giovanna Fortuna, Dan Jenkins, Sam Curtis, Rachel Stubbs, and the many analysts who supported the project. 

Fieldsauce undertook the recruitment and supported participants during the fieldwork process. Special thanks goes to Stephen Gooblar, Florence Child and Anna Nagy.

Analytical People undertook statistical analysis of the observed data and delivered a Sequencing Tool that explored the chronological relationship between behaviours. Special thanks goes to John McConnell. 

Staff from the FSA’s social sciences team, past and present, were involved by supporting and providing feedback on design, delivery and reporting. Special thanks goes to Helen Heard, Alice Rayner, Anya Mohideen, Abbie Collins, Harriet Pickles, Maya King, Catherine Bartle and Michelle Patel. Additional thanks go to colleagues across the Analytics Unit, including Darren Holland and Mark Jitlal. 
In addition, members of the FSA’s Risk Assessment, Foodborne Disease Policy and Knowledge and Information Management (KIMS) teams played key roles in advising the project. Special thanks goes to Anthony J. Wilson, Erin Lewis, Abrar Jaffer, Wioleta Trzaska, Daniel Lloyd, Paul Smith and Geoff Beveridge.

An Advisory Group was formed to advise on the literature review and inform the study design. The Advisory Group comprised members from the Advisory Committee for Social Science (ACSS), external experts and FSA staff. It included Professor Julie Barnett, Professor Baruch Fischhoff, Professor Lynn Frewer, Julie Hill, Alec Kryakides, Professor Susan Michie, Dr Hannah Lambie-Mumford and Professor Kerrie Unsworth. 

Finally, an ACSS Working Group was established to provide ad-hoc support on the study and particularly to review the reporting outputs from the study. Thanks are given to Professor Julie Barnett, Professor Fiona Gillison, Julie Hill and Dr Hannah Lambie-Mumford. 


Overview of Kitchen Life 2

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) commissioned Kitchen Life 2 (KL2) to understand food safety practices in household and food business operator (FBO) kitchens. The study aimed to provide observed behavioural data to inform risk assessment at the FSA, and actionable insights for policy and regulatory interventions through the application of behavioural science. 

In 2013, the FSA worked with the University of Hertfordshire on a study - Kitchen Life - which sought to investigate, document, analyse and interpret domestic kitchen practices. The study generated insights about what goes on and why in UK domestic kitchens, to inform thinking about how to reduce the burden of foodborne disease. 

KL2 was commissioned as digital technology provided new techniques for observing behaviour that were not available in 2013, which the FSA were keen to explore. Additionally, while the FSA had undertaken a range of research on consumer behaviour, such as through their flagship Food and You 2 surveys, this has focused on self-reported rather than observed behaviours. 

KL2 was commissioned in February 2021 and completed in June 2023. The aims of the study were to identify: 

  • the key behaviours relating to food safety that occur in household and catering kitchens
  • where, when, how often and with whom food safety behaviours occur and the key factors that influence these behaviours

KL2 had two main objectives:

  • to provide highly detailed, real-life data for risk assessment at the FSA
  • to inform future behavioural interventions research 

Overall, 101 kitchens participated in KL2, with 70 households and 31 food business operators (FBOs) taking part across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The study utilised a variety of data collection methods. After a literature review, ethics approval and pilot, the main fieldwork design involved the use of motion sensitive cameras to film participants in their kitchen over five days (in some kitchens, 7 days where technical issues impacted filming), with three days of footage analysed from this period. 

The footage was coded, with analytical labels applied in terms of the behaviour (for example, washing hands with soap), person (for example, chef) and context (for example, sink, utensils).  Surveys, interviews and observational methods were then used to understand influences on food safety behaviours – analysed using the COM-B behavioural model (footnote 1)

Experts in food safety policy, behavioural sciences and communications were then involved in a workshop to discuss findings and consider behaviours to target for future interventions. 
The overall research process is summarised in figure 1.

Figure 1: The KL2 research process

Literature review, ethical approval, pilot, main fieldwork stages, coding, analysis, behavioural interventions workshop, development of outputs.

Information about this report

This report provides detail of how the methodology was developed and delivered for KL2, together with the various processes used to quality assure the research. The report covers:

  • project development, including the literature review, behaviours selected for research, the initial research design, and findings and recommendations from the pilot
  • main fieldwork stages, including sampling, recruitment, and fieldwork design
  • the coding and analysis of various data collected throughout the study, including use of the COM-B framework
  • a behavioural workshop, involving specialists in the area of food safety, consumer behaviour and risk perception to develop hypotheses for future behavioural interventions research
  • reporting and outputs 
  • ethical considerations and consent
  • limitations of the method 

The following research materials are available on request (please contact the FSA’s Social Science team for further information): 

  • Screening materials 
  • participant consent forms and information sheets (for Households, FBO managers and FBO staff)
  • exemplar interview topic guides (for Households and FBOs)
  • survey questions (for Households and FBOs).