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Canadian Consumer Food Safety Practices and Knowledge: Foodbook Study.

J Food Prot; 80(10): 1711-1718, 2017 Oct.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-28906156
Understanding consumers' food safety practices and knowledge supports food safety education for the prevention of foodborne illness. The objective of this study was to describe Canadian consumer food safety practices and knowledge. This study identifies demographic groups for targeted food safety education messaging and establishes a baseline measurement to assess the effectiveness of food safety interventions over time. Questions regarding consumer food safety practices and knowledge were included in a population-based telephone survey, Foodbook, conducted from November 2014 to March 2015. The results were analyzed nationally by age group and by gender. The results showed that approximately 90% of Canadians reported taking the recommended cleaning and separating precautions when handling raw meat to prevent foodborne illness. Only 29% of respondents reported using a food thermometer when cooking any meat, and even fewer (12%) reported using a food thermometer for small cuts of meat such as chicken pieces. The majority (>80%) of Canadians were aware of the foodborne illness risks related to chicken and hamburger, but fewer (<40%) were aware of the risks related to frozen chicken nuggets, alfalfa sprouts, soft unpasteurized cheese, and unpasteurized juices. Generally, men were less likely to follow cooking instructions on packaging and took fewer steps to prevent cross-contamination than women. The youngest (18 to 29 years) age group was less likely to take steps to avoid cross-contamination and was less aware of the risks associated with eating an undercooked hamburger. The oldest (60+ years) respondents were less likely to be aware of the risks associated with raw eggs, alfalfa sprouts, and unpasteurized juice than the middle (30 to 59 years) age group. As a priority, food safety education in Canada should focus on increasing people's awareness of high-risk foods, specifically foods for which the awareness of risk found in this study was low; targeting messaging to demographic groups as appropriate; and promoting the use of food thermometers when cooking meat and poultry.