Food Recalls and Food Safety Perceptions: The September 2006 Spinach Recall Case
This paper examines public perceptions on food safety particularly relating to spinach, which was subject of countrywide recall in 2006. Results indicate that food safety perceptions may be driven by public trust/confidence in institutions whose activities may be directly or indirectly related to food safety. The results further suggest that food safety perceptions may also be related to the type of the product; for example, the public perceives frozen spinach differently from bagged fresh spinach. Additionally, the results show that low levels of objective knowledge about food pathogens and the resulting illnesses have implications on overall food safety. Results further indicate that females and Caucasians perceived the four types of spinach as safe for consumption. This outcome contrasts with views held by young people, people with education below high school and those belonging to the lower incomes groups, who viewed the four types of spinach as unsafe. More attention should be directed toward public education and outreach efforts on overall food safety targeting the youth, low income groups and those with education below high school. In addition, there is need for the regulatory agencies to put their act together, given current low levels of public trust in their role of safeguarding the food supply.
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