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Title: Perceptions and risks : food-borne pathogens in the domestic environment
Author: Millman, Caroline Elizabeth
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2012
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Food-borne illness is a significant burden both with regard to public health and financially. Efforts to reduce the level of food-borne illness continue to concentrate on the full food supply chain with particular regard given to Campylobacter, the most commonly reported zoonosis and the greatest burden to public health. The focus of this research is domestic food safety practises, where there is no regulation. Food safety is reliant on people’s knowledge or awareness, their ability to adopt safe food handling practises and for the correct behaviours to achieve this, to be routine. The elicitation of awareness and perceptions with regard to food safety are problematic due to the complexities of human nature, including the presence of several forms of bias, such as social desirability bias and optimistic bias. The research was designed in order to try to minimise such biases, whilst further understanding influences on food safety preparation behaviour. Food safety preparation behaviours and kitchen hygiene were investigated between people who had campylobacteriosis in comparison to people who had not had food poisoning. Whilst no difference was noted in the kitchen hygiene between the two groups, significant differences were noted in self-reported food preparation behaviours. Optimistic bias was exhibited by both groups but when tested again after six months had elapsed, the group who had not had food poisoning increased their optimism, introducing a significant difference in optimistic bias between the two groups. Awareness of a number of unsafe food behaviours was explored for individuals and groups of people using a method developed as part of the research. This method of hazard awareness uses video as a stimulus, creating an interactive survey, combined with attitudinal and demographic data. Changes were made to perceptions of knowledge and risk following the hazard perception challenge, with the number of hazards missed, influencing this movement in perception. The risk perception of unsafe food handling behaviours was examined using a novel technique Best-Worst Scaling, in order to identify relative risks. This technique, in conjunction with latent class modelling, demonstrated a difference in perceptions between food safety experts and members of the general public. However, these differences are nuanced and demonstrate that heterogeneity exists both within and across the groups. Taken together, these findings have extended the research on domestic food safety behaviour and risk perceptions. It has done so by developing and testing novel methods to elicit relative risk perceptions and hazard perception with regard to food safety behaviours. The results provide valuable evidence for stakeholders particularly with regard to the novel methods used in identifying the heterogeneity and influences of food safety behaviour between groups of people. It also provides important tools for stakeholders, risk managers and communicators to use in future research, communication and education.
Supervisor: Rigby, Daniel; Wossink, Ada Sponsor: ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Food Safety ; Household ; Best-Worst Scaling ; Interactive ; Hazard perception ; Campylobacter ; Risk perception