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Food Safety Practices among Norwegian Consumers

Røssvoll, Elin Halbach, Lavik, Randi, Ueland, Øydis, Jacobsen, Eivind, Hagtvedt, Therese, Langsrud, Solveig
Journal of food protection 2013 v.76 no.11 pp. 1939-1947
attitudes and opinions, behavior change, elderly, food handling, food production, food safety, higher education, linear models, men, parboiling, raw vegetables, ready-to-eat foods, regression analysis, sociodemographic characteristics, surveys, temperature, women, Norway
An informed consumer can compensate for several potential food safety violations or contaminations that may occur earlier in the food production chain. However, a consumer can also destroy the work of others in the chain by poor food handling practices, e.g., by storing chilled ready-to-eat foods at abusive temperatures. To target risk-reducing strategies, consumer groups with high-risk behavior should be identified. The aim of this study was to identify demographic characteristics associated with high-risk food handling practices among Norwegian consumers. More than 2,000 randomly selected Norwegian consumers were surveyed, and the results were analyzed with a risk-based grading system, awarding demerit points for self-reported food safety violations. The violations were categorized into groups, and an ordinary multiple linear regression analysis was run on the summarized demerit score for each group and for the entire survey group as a whole. Young and elderly men were identified as the least informed consumer groups with the most unsafe practices regarding food safety. Single persons reported poorer practices than those in a relationship. People with higher education reported poorer practices than those with lower or no education, and those living in the capital of Norway (Oslo) reported following more unsafe food practices than people living elsewhere in Norway. Men reported poorer food safety practices than women in all categories with two exceptions: parboiling raw vegetables before consumption and knowledge of refrigerator temperature. These findings suggest that risk-reducing measures should target men, and a strategy is needed to change their behavior and attitudes.