I usually say, those that have knowingly had foodborne illness are more likely to pay attention to restaurant inspection data, be more attentive shoppers and take extra care at home.
Maybe I’ve been talking out my ass.
Or maybe not; it’s hard to know based on the results of a small-scale UK study.
Researchers looked at self-reported kitchen behaviors and perceptions (surveys still suck) of people who have had campylobacteriosis in comparison to people who have not had food poisoning. It also investigates microbiological kitchen hygiene within a smaller sample.
Follow-up surveys were done six months later and found that individuals who had not had food poisoning increased their optimism: it’s risk perception 101; things didn’t go bad yesterday so there’s a better chance things won’t go bad today.
And, as usual, there was a call for more effective food safety communication. No tips on how to do that.
Whilst the scale of food poisoning in the home is not fully understood, the increase in sporadic cases of Campylobacter continues to place focus on home hygiene and domestic food safety practices. Domestic hygiene has rarely been identified as a risk factor for the incidence of campylobacteriosis but due to the high levels of sporadic cases of Campylobacter, cross contamination from kitchen practices remains of significant interest. Due to the complexities of human nature, finding the true risk perceptions and practices that take place in the kitchen is challenging, with social desirability bias affecting the results of surveys and optimistic bias influencing risk perceptions. This study looks at self-reported kitchen behaviours and perceptions of people who have had campylobacteriosis in comparison to people who have not had food poisoning. It also investigates microbiological kitchen hygiene within a smaller sample. The survey crucially includes a longitudinal element to investigate any change that may take place after a period of six months has elapsed. Optimistic bias was evident in both groups and no significant difference in perception was noted in the baseline study. However, the longitudinal study showed that individuals who had not had food poisoning increased their optimism, introducing a significant difference in optimistic bias between the two groups after six months had elapsed. Self-reported kitchen behaviours also exhibited a difference between the two groups, with the individuals who had campylobacteriosis responding more favourably with the exception of washing chicken and washing salad leaves sold in a bag. No evidence of kitchen hygiene differences could be found between the people who had suffered campylobacteriosis in comparison to people who had not had food poisoning. The results of the survey demonstrate that more effective food safety communication is required. Important messages such as ‘not washing chicken’ seem not to have been absorbed and the good practices become routine. These messages need particularly to be aimed towards people who may not perceive themselves as being at risk of getting food poisoning, such as the young, although the challenge of changing the practice of those who perceive themselves to be at low risk remains.
Caroline Millman, Dan Rigby, Gareth Edward-Jones, Lorraine Lighton, Davey Jones