Consumer behaviour concerning food safety in Brazil and New Zealand : modelling food safety risk in the home : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Food Technology (Food Safety) at Massey University, Manawatu, New Zealand

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Foodborne illnesses are among the most widespread public health issues, killing about 2.2 million people annually worldwide, and costing hundreds of billions of US dollars for governments, companies, families and consumers. In Brazil, foodborne illness in the home accounts for 44% of identified disease outbreaks and in New Zealand it represents 27% of notifiable disease outbreaks. Several studies have investigated aspects of consumer behaviour concerning food safety, but it remains a challenge to obtain a full picture of critical control points (CCPs) and key factors contributing to food contamination, pathogen growth or survival, when the food is under the consumer’s responsibility. This study aimed to assess threats to food safety in the home in Brazil and New Zealand. From August 2011 to March 2012, survey questionnaires from 2,775 consumers most responsible for cooking in the home in Brazil were collected. From September 2012 to November 2012, 658 households in New Zealand responded to the same survey. Both surveys found similar CCPs with the potential to threaten food safety in the domestic environment – food preparation, cooking and handling leftovers. Information from New Zealand suggests that choosing and purchasing food, and for Brazil food transportation, are also steps of concern. The age, marital status, gender, ethnicity, first-aid in response to illness and the way a person learned to cook had a significant influence in the risky practices of consumers in both countries, suggesting that similar consumer behaviour concerning food safety can be found in countries of substantially different degrees of economic development and culture. The young, the men, socioeconomic minorities, people most susceptible to illness and ethnic groups were people of most concern, often ranked at-risk, demanding special attention of public health authorities in both countries. The CCPs of most concern and contributing factors identified in this study were officially reported in New Zealand, helping to validate the methodology used in this study and its possible use in other countries. Furthermore, food safety educational campaigns built on the steps of most concern and groups ranked at moderate or high risk, have the potential to be most effective in reducing food poisoning in the home.
Food poisoning, Risk factors, Safety measures, Housekeeping, Brazil, New Zealand