Data from a recently published survey conducted by a group of researchers from the Dunărea de Jos University of Galați, Romania, indicated that the high level of food knowledge improves attitude towards food safety when shopping and incline consumers to adopt food safety practices during cooking at home.

Where and how can consumers get sick?

Statistics indicates that in the EU, in 2018, 5146 foodborne outbreaks, which affected 48,365 people took place in households as result of consumers’ practices. Many foodborne outbreaks have been associated with consumers’ lack of knowledge and inadequate attitude regarding proper food safety practices during meal preparation at home.

Shopping bags put young consumers at risk

The survey showed that Romanian consumers are aware that dirty hands (83.7%), pets (76.1%), insects (73.2%) and raw food (65.4%) are vehicles for introducing pathogens in their kitchen. However, almost a half of the young consumers and consumers living in rural areas did not consider shopping bags as potential contamination sources of food.

Avoiding food borne diseases by paying more attention to dish cloths

Although it is a known fact that dish cloths play an important contribution in the transmission of pathogenic microorganisms, Romanian respondents considered that using the same dish cloth for wiping hands and kitchenware is neither good, nor bad practice. This indicates a reduced awareness of consumers on the vectors for pathogens transmission.

What really matters when buying food?

“I was surprised to see that food quality and food safety were rated as being more important for Romanians than food price”, says Anca Nicolau one of the authors of the paper. “The increase of minimum wage could explain why Romanian consumers are lately more focused on quality and safety than on price”, continues prof. Nicolau. Romanian researchers applied complex statistics modelling, and confirmed that consumers` knowledge on contamination sources and hazards correlated with a wide-awake attitude regarding food quality and safety positively influence their care given to hygiene practices and food safety, thus reducing the risk of food borne diseases.

What is important in a long-run?

Understanding how Romanian consumers are coping with food hazards at home will help the development of targeted educational campaigns. To improve consumers’ food safety practices at home, these campaigns should emphasize on potential sources of contamination and practices that could prevent cross-contamination.

Article

Mihalache, A. O., Dumitraşcu, L., Nicolau, A. I., Borda, D. 2021. Food safety knowledge, food shopping attitude and safety kitchen practices among Romanian consumers: A structural modelling approach, Food Control, Volume 120, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodcont.2020.107545.

Acknowledgements

This research was supported by the Horizon 2020 project SafeConsume (Grant Agreement No. 727580). Joachim Scholderer (University of Zurich, Switzerland) and his team are acknowledged for designing and organizing the consumer survey. Valérie Lengard Almli (Nofima, Norway) is acknowledged for assisting the Romanian team in developing the part of the questionnaire that targeted the Romanian consumers.

Contact info

Daniela Borda: daniela.borda@ugal.ro