FDA/FSIS Consumer Food Safety Survey

PUBLISHED ARTICLE

Nov 28, 2016 | EcoSure Food Safety Monitor

By Miriam Eisenberg, MS, RD, CP-FS

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With holiday season upon us, it is a good time to remind your workers about good food safety practices as the holiday rush commences.

A survey from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has measured the public’s understanding of proper food safety handling techniques. The “public” is of course the source of our workforce.

For nearly three decades the FDA and FSIS have conducted annual Food Safety Surveys to gauge and track the public’s understanding in this important area. While the survey questions are designed to measure trends in consumer food safety practices and not necessarily restaurant workers, it is important to understand how the source of our worker population thinks. The survey included areas such as hand and cutting board washing; preparing and consuming potentially risky foods; and using food thermometers. In addition to informing the FDA’s food safety education efforts, the results are used by the Healthy People 2020 initiative to track consumer food safety knowledge and actions.

Key findings (with my notes in Italics):

  • Consumers worry more about contracting a foodborne illness from a food service venue than at home.
  • Consumers are significantly more concerned about contamination from meats than from produce. (Note: EcoSure customers are highly concerned about produce safety since produce is often not cooked.)
  • Nearly 2/3 of consumers own a food thermometer, yet they report only using them about 1/3 of the time. Are you regularly using the thermometer in your foodservice kitchen?
    Most consumers report that they wash raw meats prior to cooking. Washing raw meats has the potential to spread pathogens.
  • Generally, consumers know the importance of handwashing after handling raw meats and fish, but not so much after handling raw eggs.
  • Most consumers do not wash their hands after using handheld phones or tablets in the kitchen. About half of consumers use devices such as smartphones or tablets while preparing food, but only about a third of those report washing their hands with soap after touching the device while preparing food. This is a new finding and points to the need for additional research to better understand how technology is used in the kitchen.
  • As Americans start preparing meals for the holiday season, the FDA and USDA offer several resources to help all consumers ensure that their special meals are prepared and enjoyed safely.

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