Source of Article: http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/542821/
Newswise — Metropolitan consumers in
The study, by Sean Fox, professor of agricultural economics, and Alexandra Gregory, doctoral candidate in agricultural economics, polled consumers in two major markets - Los Angeles, Calif., and Wichita, Kan. Consumers in both cities were questioned about their purchasing habits related to potential foodborne illness. Survey topics ranged from avian flu in chicken and E. coli in spinach, to the treatment of food with irradiation and antibiotics in meat.
"What we were trying to do was learn what consumers knew about food safety and determine how that impacted their choices as consumers," Fox said. "When there is a situation like a food recall - even if it's a low-risk situation - they tend to get a lot of publicity."
During fall 2007, the
researchers sent surveys to 1,000 people in each city. The survey had a 30
percent response rate, with more answering from
Overall, consumers in
For example, when asked
about E. coli contaminated spinach - a real-life scenario in 2006 - consumers
The surveys also asked about
how the respondents' poultry consumption would change if a case of bird flu
were found in a wild bird in
"Seventy percent of Wichitans said their consumption wouldn't change, whereas
the corresponding percent for
While not sure of the reason
for this difference, Fox noted that Kansans are typically more familiar with
agricultural issues. He also pointed to the lower response rate from the
Consumers were also asked whether they were more or less likely to purchase food that had been irradiated. Irradiation is a method of decontamination in which foods are exposed to ionizing energy similar to X-rays. The technology has been shown to effectively destroy disease-causing bacteria that might be present in food without affecting the nutritional quality, according to Fox.
Though consumers in both
cities were equally knowledgeable about irradiation prior to the survey, when
provided with a description of the technology, consumers in
"Almost 40 percent of respondents had not heard of food irradiation prior to our survey," Fox said. "People could benefit by knowing more about technologies like food irradiation because it can kill foodborne pathogens on spinach and leafy vegetables, products for which there isn't a common kill step for the consumer before eating. It can do the same for meat products that pasteurization now does for milk."
Other survey findings of note include:
were more likely to lean toward purchasing cheaper meat from animals treated
with antibiotics while, even at a significantly higher price, residents of
reported eating more beef that those in
The study was funded by the Food Safety Consortium, of which K-State is a partner.
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