As an educator or parent, you probably want to see the evidence that Ninja Kitchen works to teach youth safe food-handling skills. Researchers have evaluated the game vis-a-vis middle school youth in two U.S. regions. Almost 400 youth participated in the study. Youth completed a questionnaire one week before and one week after playing the game. Prior to playing the game, youth in general did not have much knowledge about food safety practices and how to prevent foodborne illness. After playing the game, middle schoolers knew significantly more about safe cooking temperatures and danger zone temperatures for meat, fish and poultry. They cared more about eating clean and safe food, felt more confident in their abilities to prepare food safely, and were more determined to do so.
The students also enjoyed playing they game. They reported playing it two to three times and, on average, reached level 9 (of 15). Half of the middle schoolers, when surveyed, intended to play it again. A quarter of the students said they had shared the game with friends or family.
The Ninja Kitchen project aimed to address youth food-handling responsibilities and to help overcome obstacles they encounter in practicing food safety, such as limited knowledge of foodborne disease and preventative behaviors, psychosocial factors (i.e., attitudes, locus of control, self-efficacy), and their existing habits in handling food.
These findings indicate that the Ninja Kitchen game is effective in improving food safety knowledge, attitudes and intentions and suggests that this game and others like it are a useful addition to Family and Consumer Sciences classrooms, homes, or other educational venues.
Quick, V., Corda, K., and Byrd-Bredbenner, C. (2012). Food Safety Knowledge, Attitudes, Behaviors and Intended Behaviors of Middle Schoolers. Experimental Biology, San Diego. FASEB Journal, 26:814.8. Presented at Experimental Biology, San Diego.
Quick, V., Corda, K., and Byrd-Bredbenner, C. (2011). Evaluation of a Food Safety Computer Game for Middle Schoolers. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 111:A96. Presented at the American Dietetic Association, November, San Diego.
Corda, K., Quick, V., Byrd-Bredbenner, C. (2011) Kitchen Ninja to the Rescue: Development and Formative Evaluation of a Food Safety (FS) Education Game Targeting Middle School Youth. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 43:S37. Presented at Society for Nutrition Education, July, Kansas City.
Ninja Kitchen is a project of the NMSU Learning Games Lab, producer of award-winning games for science and math learning, and Carol Byrd-Bredbenner, professor and Extension specialist at Rutgers University and innovative educator in nutrition and food safety.