Food safety knowledge and practices of consumers in the USA
Use of safe food handling practices in the home could reduce the number of foodborne illnesses. The objective of this project was to obtain baseline data on the safe food handling knowledge and practices of consumers to aid in the development of effective educational programmes. A food handling questionnaire was developed and completed by 426 Nebraskan respondents. Knowledge and practice questions were based on the most important contributory factors in reported foodborne illness outbreaks. Knowledge scores (correct responses) ranged from 2 to 29 with a mean of 20 ± 4. When compared with the knowledge score, the respondents' education level, where they lived and their sex were statistically significant. Almost all (96%) of the respondents stated that they practised safe food handling when persons were infected. Approximately half of the respondents indicated that they practised safe food handling when handling contaminated raw foods and using foods from unsafe sources. About 45% of the respondents inappropriately left foods at room temperature. One-third of the survey respondents improperly held hot foods. Cross-contamination was a concept understood by 75% of the respondents. Results indicate that food safety education should be targeted on specific groups who are less knowledgeable about safe food handling practices. Results also indicate that a number of respondents knew proper food handling concepts but did not put those concepts into practice. Therefore, increasing the adoption of safe food handling practices by consumers should become an important aspect for educators in food safety educational programmes.
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