Review articles are a means of summarizing the potentially vast volume of research on a topic. However, the methodological quality of review articles varies, and reviews on the same topic may reach different conclusions. We evaluated 65 review articles published between 2000 and 2005 that addressed the effectiveness of microbial food safety interventions, using criteria for methodological soundness developed in the medical field. Overall, the methodological quality of the review articles was poor, with none of the reviews providing information on the method of locating primary research studies or the inclusion/exclusion criteria for selecting primary studies. None of the reviews included a critical appraisal of the methodological quality of the primary studies. Less than half of the reviews stated a focused research question, explored possible reasons for differences in the results of primary studies, discussed the generalizability of results, or proposed directions for future research. There is a need to improve the methodological quality of review articles on microbial food safety interventions if they are to be of use in policy and decision making.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/annette_oconnor/30/