Main content area

Consumers' food safety risk perceptions and willingness to pay for fresh-cut produce with lower risk of foodborne illness

Yu, Heyao, Neal, Jack A., Sirsat, Sujata A.
Food control 2018 v.86 pp. 83-89
analysis of variance, compliance, decision making, educational materials, females, food pathogens, food safety, foodborne illness, fresh-cut produce, pesticides, purchasing, risk factors, risk perception, willingness to pay
There has been an increasing number of foodborne illness outbreaks associated with fresh and fresh-cut produce recently; however, few studies have examined consumers' risk perceptions and their willingness to pay (WTP) for fresh-cut produce with lower foodborne illness risk (FBIR). Hence, the objectives of this study were to examine how consumers perceived different food safety risk factors associated with fresh-cut produce and explore the factors associated with consumers' WTP for the fresh-cut produce with lower FBIR. The results showed that consumers' risk perception of foodborne pathogens was significantly lower than that of pesticides, which was mainly because consumers with optimistic bias perceived a very low probability of the occurrence of foodborne illness related to fresh-cut produce. The analysis of variance (ANOVA) indicated that millennial and female consumers had higher risk perceptions compared to other demographic groups. In addition, the WTP data demonstrated that the majority of consumers were willing to pay a premium for fresh-cut produce with lower FBIR. Millennial consumers with high-risk perceptions of pathogens and high fresh-cut produce purchasing frequency were more willing to pay a premium. The results provide useful information for fresh-cut produce processors to make decisions on enhancing the compliance of food safety practices. In addition, the results suggest that food safety regulatory agencies that develop public education materials should include information to reduce consumers' optimistic bias and enhance consumers' awareness of the risks associated with foodborne pathogens related to fresh-cut produce.