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Eating out: Consumer perceptions of food safety

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The purpose of this investigation was to improve the understanding of the public's perception of hygiene standards in eating places and their knowledge of the inspection system. A telephone survey found that despite many claiming experience of food poisoning, and a widely held belief that using eating places may result in illness, people continue to eat out or purchase takeaways regularly. Nearly all respondents claimed that the standard of food hygiene was important to them when deciding where to eat out. Assessments of hygiene standards were mainly based on aesthetics. A minority had concerns/complaints about the hygiene standards of eating places they had used. People do not appear to be well informed about the role of the local authorities in protecting food safety and how the food safety laws are enforced. They believe that they have the right to know the result of a hygiene inspection. Half of them thought that it was difficult to find information on the hygiene standards of eating places. If access to information was easier, some consumers would eat out more often. The public will need to be educated on the inspection and enforcement process if ‘scores on doors' is adopted as the main method of raising the confidence of the public in the standards of the food industry.
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Keywords: Eating out; hygiene inspections; hygiene standards; ‘scores on doors'

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Wales Institute, UK, Cardiff

Publication date: June 1, 2006

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