Food safety survey and its impacts

The latest food safety survey offers key findings on where the public is regarding proper food safety behavior.

As the year comes to an end, many of us are busy preparing year end reports. Since 1988, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have conducted a periodic national consumer telephone survey. The 2016 FDA Food Safety Survey was completed for the seventh time this year, this time the survey sample included cell phone users as well as landline phones. This change was instituted to include those who only have cell service. The survey reached 4,169 participants between October 2015 and January 2016. Some of the key findings are listed:

  • Consumers are somewhat concerned about getting a foodborne illness from how they prepare food, but think people are more likely to get a foodborne illness from food prepared at a restaurant compared to food prepared at home. Most respondents, 53 percent thought that it was “not very common” to get food poisoning because of the way food is prepared at home. Slightly over half the surveyed group (54 percent) thought it was “more common” to get food poisoning from eating in a restaurant.
  • Consumers are more concerned about raw chicken and raw beef being contaminated than raw vegetables. Those surveyed thought that raw chicken (66 percent) and raw beef (41 percent) were “very likely” to have germs, higher than the 6 percent who thought perhaps some of the raw vegetables might have germs.
  • Handwashing – consumers are more likely to wash hands with soap after touching raw meat (85% percent or fish (85 percent), than before preparing food (75 percent use soap all the time), or after cracking eggs (43 percent).
  • Food thermometer ownership and use 67 percent of the respondents reported owning a food thermometer. 38 percent always use a food thermometer for roasts, compared to 19 percent for chicken, 6 percent for baked egg dishes and 10 percent for hamburgers.
  • Most consumers wash cutting boards after cutting raw meat – the percentage that either wash or use a different cutting board between cutting raw meat or other foods is around 90 percent.
  • Most consumers wash chicken parts or whole chickens before cooking them - Around 67 percent said that they always washed raw chicken parts and whole poultry before cooking.
  • Forty-eight percent (48 percent) of consumers use devices such as smartphones or tablets while preparing food – Of those only 35 percent wash hands with soap after touching the device while preparing food.

Food safety is something everyone can take part in. Whether it is washing hands, using a food thermometer or being more aware of how a food poisoning can happen, it is up to the consumer to make sure their food is safe. Michigan State University Extension provides research based information to help one do just that. Take small steps to prevent food poisoning, improve your food safety behavior.

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