How Food Safety Savvy are Shoppers? Investigating and Impacting Consumers’ Risk Identification Skills at Retail

Katrina Levine, John B. Luchansky, Anna C. S. Porto-Fett, Veronica Bryant, Celia Herring, Benjamin Chapman Biblographic citation: Food Protection Trends, vol. 41, no. 1, pp. 21-35, Jan 2021 Volume 41, Issue 1: Pages 21–35

Training videos were validated for improving consumers’ identification of food safety risks at food retailers. Participants (n = 62) and an environmental health specialist (EHS) shopped at North Carolina grocery stores in October (baseline) and November (post-intervention) 2017 to collect food safety risk data using portable electronic devices. Experimental group participants viewed five videos about retail risk identification prior to the November shopping sessions and participated in focus groups thereafter. Risks were classified actual or perceived based on expert assessment. The EHS identified significantly more actual food safety risks than did the control group (n = 34) and experimental group (n = 28) during both shopping sessions. The experimental group identified more actual than perceived food safety risks in November than in October (baseline: 19 of 40, 48%; post-intervention: 35 of 54, 65%) compared with the controls. More actual food safety risks identified by the control and experimental groups agreed with EHS assessment during postintervention shopping (5 of 7, 71%) than during baseline shopping (2 of 7, 29%). Focus groups supported a positive effect of viewing educational videos on shopper risk knowledge. These data established that training videos about retail food safety risk identification may help consumers improve identification of food safety risks in real time.

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