survey showed fewer consumers are adhering to basic safe food handling
practices than a year ago. What does this mean for food processors?
International Food Information Council Foundation recently published its 2009 Food & Health Survey: Consumer Attitudes toward Food,
Nutrition & Health. http://tinyurl.com/pbad2f
52% of the consumers surveyed correctly identified foodborne illness from
bacteria as the most important food safety issue, fewer are taking food
safety precautions to reduce their risks. For example only 50% of consumers
use different or freshly cleaned cutting boards for different types of food
products (such as raw meat/poultry/produce). Only 63% separate raw meat,
poultry and seafood from ready-to-eat products and only 25% claim that they
use a food thermometer to check the doneness of meat and poultry items.
Other important statistics in the
survey relate to microwave cooking practices. Generally, the survey showed
that fewer consumers are following
safe microwave cooking practices, including following cooking instructions
and allowing microwaved foods to stand for an appropriate time after
words, consumer food safety practices are generally getting worse. This
means a number of things for food processors.
appears unlikely that consumer behaviors relating to food safety are going
to improve any time soon. Clearly, there needs to be a renewed emphasis on
consumer education. In my view, food safety tips on television cooking
programs and YouTube may be more effective than USDA pamphlets and
traditional education initiatives.
means that food processors must realistically consider consumer practices
when designing food products and cooking instructions. The largest possible
safety nets need to be designed into processed foods and labels to take
into account the likelihood of consumer preparation error.
respect to raw foods, including raw meat and poultry products, it is
particularly alarming that only 50% of consumers use different or freshly
cleaned cutting boards for different types of food products and only 63%
separate raw meat, poultry and seafood from ready-to-eat products. These
types of poor consumer practices make it essential that raw products have
the lowest possible incidence of pathogens. Proper cooking alone is not
enough to address the problem of E. coli O157:H7 in raw beef
products and Salmonella in raw poultry.
the highlights of the survey addressed consumer confidence in the US food
supply. Interestingly, only 49% of the respondents were extremely or
somewhat confident that our food supply is safe. That is not an encouraging
number given the fact that the food supply in the US is certainly one of
the safest in the world.