Food Safety Perceptions and Behaviors of Kentucky Consumers

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In several areas, Kentuckians practice more risky health behaviors than most of the rest of the nation. The Health Belief Model states that individuals with lower perceived risks practice less healthy behaviors. This study sought to determine if this was true for food safety by assessing food safety perceptions and behaviors of Kentucky consumers. Data were collected through a telephone questionnaire based on a survey by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; 728 respondents participated. Food safety perceptions were analyzed by examining participants' responses to confidence in the safety of the food supply, perception of likelihood of people becoming sick because of foodborne illness, and perception of where food safety problems are most likely to occur. Significant differences were found in food safety perceptions for age, gender, household income, education, and employment in the food industry. Analysis of food safety behaviors revealed differences in food handling behaviors for gender, education level, household income, race, and households with a member aged 65 years or older. Significant relationships were found between respondents' food safety perceptions and behaviors. In general, Kentucky consumers who perceived higher risks exhibited safer food handling behaviors. Strategies to increase the understanding of real and perceived food safety risks in the home combined with strategies that target specific demographic groups may be the most effective approach to improve food handling practices. A better understanding of consumers' food safety risk perceptions and behaviors could lead to more effective food safety education materials and messages.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture, Department of Nutrition and Food Science, 120 Erikson Hall, Lexington, Kentucky 40546-0050 2: University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service, 245 Scovell Hall, Lexington, Kentucky 40546-0064, USA

Publication date: June 1, 2006

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    The Journal of Food Protection (JFP) is a refereed monthly publication. Each issue contains scientific research and authoritative review articles reporting on a variety of topics in food science pertaining to food safety and quality. The Journal is internationally recognized as the leading publication in the field of food microbiology with a readership exceeding 11,000 scientists from 70 countries. The Journal of Food Protection is indexed in Index Medicus, Current Contents, BIOSIS, PubMed, Medline, and many others.

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