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Pork Producers' Attitudes, Knowledge, and Production Practices That Relate to On-Farm Food Safety

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A survey was distributed by mail to a random selection of Illinois pig farmers marketing 1,000 or more pigs in 1998 to assess their knowledge, attitude and behavior regarding on-farm food safety. Valid responses were received from 353 of the 946 surveys mailed (37.3%). Pork production accounted for more than 50% of gross agricultural revenues among 65.0% of respondents, and 91.2% were classified as ''owner-operators.'' Knowledge of food-borne pathogens was mixed, with correct responses to questions as follows: Trichina, 80.4%; Salmonella, 58.5%; Toxoplasma, 19.9%; and Campylobacter, 12.8%. Producers strongly agreed that food safety was a shared responsibility at every level of the food chain, including the farm level, with an average score for all steps in the pork chain of 4.5 on a scale from 1 (not important) to 5 (very important). When asked whether third party verification of on-farm practices was important, 51.2% agreed and 48.8% either disagreed or neither agreed nor disagreed. Associations between demographic categories and knowledge of and attitudes toward food safety were detected for herd size, proportion of agricultural receipts from pig production, grower versus birth-to-market production, age categories, and whether the respondent owned the pigs or facilities. Many (53.4%) were willing to apply a suggested food safety practice, even if there was no net profit for the practice. Findings suggest that Illinois pork producers accept an important role in pork food safety and express a willingness to participate but have knowledge gaps that should be filled.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine, University of Illinois, 1008 W. Hazelwood Drive, Urbana, Illinois 61802 2: Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, University of Illinois, 2001 Lincoln Avenue, Urbana, Illinois 61802, USA

Publication date: December 1, 2001

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