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  1. CFSAN Social and Behavioral Research

2010 Food Safety Survey Key Findings and Topline Frequency Report

September 2011

Amy Lando; e-mail: amy.lando@fda.hhs.gov
Ewa Carlton; e-mail: ewa.carlton@fda.hhs.gov
Consumer Studies Team
Division of Social Sciences
Office of Regulations, Policy and Social Sciences
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, FDA

Key Findings

We found a substantial improvement in food handling and consumption practices and an increase in perceived risk from foodborne illness between 1993 and 1998. These improvements were maintained or declined between 1998 and 2006. Between 2006 and 2010 safe food handling increased, but risk perceptions did not change, and safe consumption declined. There was in increase in eating raw foods that should be cooked before eating, in particular, consumption of raw fish and raw eggs increased from 2006 to 2010.

Other key findings include:

  • Women had safer food handling and consumption practices than men.
  • The oldest and youngest respondents and those with the highest education had the least safe food handling behaviors.
  • Changes in safety of practices over the survey years are consistent with the change in the number of media stories about food safety in the periods between surveys. This finding suggests that increased media attention to food safety issues may raise awareness of food safety hazards and increase vigilance in food handling by consumers.

For more details on the findings, see: Fein, Sara B., Amy M. Lando, Alan S. Levy, Mario F. Teisl, and Caroline Noblet. “Trends in US consumers’ safe handling and consumption of food and their risk perceptions 1988-2010.”  Journal of Food Protection 74(9):1513-1523. 2011.

Results are based on a random-digit-dialing telephone survey of 4,568 English or Spanish speaking non-institutionalized adults (aged 18 years and older) in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Two versions of the questionnaire were randomly administered to the sample respondents. Version 1 had 2,292 respondents and Version 2 had 2,276 respondents. Households were selected from a nationally representative single-stage sample of telephone numbers generated from the GENESYS system. The eligible respondent in a household was selected using the most-recent birthday method. The survey was conducted by a contractor during December 21, 2009 – February 28, 2010. Results have been weighted to adjust for the number of land phone lines in a household, number of adults in a household, and Census distributions of gender, race/ethnicity, age, and education in the 50 states and District of Columbia.

The number of respondents who answered a question, or sample size ("n"), is shown for each question. Percentages preceding answer text are the weighted percent of respondents who gave that answer. An asterisk (*) denotes a percentage less than one but not 0%. Zero % denotes no responses. Text inside of brackets, [], was not read to respondents. Row or column percentages may not sum to 100 due to rounding, multiple responses, or both.

Questions used for the Healthy People 2020 analysis are marked "HP". Tracking questions from 1988, 1993, 1998, 2001, and 2006 Food Safety Surveys are marked TR88, TR93, TR98, TR01, and TR06. There are a few places noted where there are missing question numbers. This was because questions were removed late in the survey review process and to keep numbering consistent across survey years.


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