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Application of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point Methodology and Risk-Based Grading to Consumer Food Safety Surveys

Rossvoll, Elin Halbach, Ueland, Oydis, Hagtvedt, Therese, Jacobsen, Eivind, Lavik, Randi, Langsrud, Solveig
Journal of food protection 2012 v.75 no.9 pp. 1673-1690
HACCP, Internet, ambient temperature, food handling, heat treatment, observational studies, risk, surveys
Traditionally, consumer food safety survey responses have been classified as either “right” or “wrong” and food handling practices that are associated with high risk of infection have been treated in the same way as practices with lower risks. In this study, a risk-based method for consumer food safety surveys has been developed, and HACCP (hazard analysis and critical control point) methodology was used for selecting relevant questions. We conducted a nationally representative Web-based survey (n = 2,008), and to fit the self-reported answers we adjusted a risk-based grading system originally developed for observational studies. The results of the survey were analyzed both with the traditional “right” and “wrong” classification and with the risk-based grading system. The results using the two methods were very different. Only 5 of the 10 most frequent food handling violations were among the 10 practices associated with the highest risk. These 10 practices dealt with different aspects of heat treatment (lacking or insufficient), whereas the majority of the most frequent violations involved storing food at room temperature for too long. Use of the risk-based grading system for survey responses gave a more realistic picture of risks associated with domestic food handling practices. The method highlighted important violations and minor errors, which are performed by most people and are not associated with significant risk. Surveys built on a HACCP-based approach with risk-based grading will contribute to a better understanding of domestic food handling practices and will be of great value for targeted information and educational activities.