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Don't wash my meat: public perceptions of decontamination in meat production

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to study public acceptance of decontamination as a risk reduction strategy in meat production. Design/methodology/approach ‐ A representative survey of the Danish population (n=1,104) was conducted during September 2007. The survey included dimensions of assessment of decontamination techniques and background variables of socio-economic status, food culture and safety profile. The data were analysed using latent class analyses, and subsequently the association of the predicted classes and background variables was analysed using bivariate analyses. Findings ‐ The analysis shows that in general members of the public do not agree with the practice of decontamination. There was, however, some variation in public rejection of the techniques. Four latent classes were identified: rejects decontamination (57 per cent), accepts decontamination (4 per cent), accepts techniques that are familiar in meat production (18 per cent), and accepts techniques known from processed foods (21 per cent). Variations in the distribution of the four classes in different population groups are identified. Originality/value ‐ This is the first study to provide in-depth information on public perceptions of the decontamination of meat. It will be of value to the industry and other stakeholders, since some form of decontamination is likely to be a necessary element in future European risk reduction strategies designed to ensure the safety of meat and meat products.
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Keywords: Food safety; Meat; Perception; Public opinion

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 17 May 2011

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