Newest Home Food Safety Study By Audits International Shows Improvement On The Decline

Homes No Better Than Restaurants But Awareness is Ultimate Key



Apr 17, 2001, 01:00 ET from Audits International

    NORTHBROOK, Ill., April 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Improvement in home food safety
 practices appears to be on the decline according to the findings of the 2000
 Home Food Safety Study conducted by Audits International, the leader in food
 safety risk assessment.  This newest study, the third to be conducted since
 1997, observed respondents' food safety and sanitation practices during a meal
 prepared in their own kitchens.  Performance was measured against the same
 standards that restaurants are required to pass.   The bottom line offers a
 bad news/new news/good news scenario.  The bad news: three-fourths of the
 population is still "doing it wrong;" the new news:  homes are no better than
 restaurants; the good news:  increasing consumer food safety awareness will
 net significant improvements.
     According to Richard W. Daniels, President of Audits International, "We
 believe the root cause for the decline in improvement is due to the overall
 decline in negative media coverage.  The extensive rate of improvement evident
 between our 1997 and 1999 studies was directly attributable to the public's
 media-driven fears about hamburgers, eggs, chicken and even lettuce.  Since
 that time, the rate of negative media impressions has decreased, and
 unfortunately, so has the rate of improvement."
     "In addition, for the first time, we were able to compare home performance
 with that of restaurants.  Comparing our data to that in FDA's Report of the
 Retail Food Program Database of Foodborne Illness Risk Factors, it seems
 likely that half of the foodborne illness in this country results from
 problems at home, Daniels added.
     Data for the 2000 Study was collected from a total of 115 households in 74
 metropolitan areas.  A.I.'s network of highly trained auditors observed food
 preparation, service, left-over handling and clean-up for one-meal.  To pass,
 as with the previous two studies, a home needed zero critical violations
 (issues which, by themselves, can cause foodborne illness).  "The significance
 of the comparison to restaurants is huge," said Daniels.  "Whenever people get
 sick they immediately ask, Where did I last eat out?  This study suggests that
 the more appropriate first question should be, What did I eat?
     An additional first, the 2000 Study probed the reasons critical violations
 occurred.  Responses were categorized in one of three ways:
     -- motivation - I know but don't believe it  - 20% of participants
     -- education - I didn't know - 40% of participants
     -- awareness - I wasn't thinking - 40% of participants
 
     "It's true that the average number of violations decreased slightly since
 1999. Yet, nearly three out of four households still had at least one critical
 violation.  And, even more important,  is the dramatic decline in people
 claiming to take more food safety precautions than previously.  Clearly,
 despite all the educational efforts, the vast majority of folks are still
 doing it wrong," said Daniels.
     "Certainly continuing to educate people is very important," Daniels added.
 "However, we believe the arena where we will make the greatest impact is with
 that group that just wasn't thinking."
     "The analogy that best illustrates the importance of awareness is the use
 of seatbelts.  Some of us automatically put them on before starting a car.
 Others intend to wear the belts but frequently forget until they've been
 driving for 5-10 minutes.  Superimpose all the potential, critical food safety
 violations that could occur in that same ten minute period in the average
 kitchen.  It's clearly time we start working on raising the food safety
 awareness bar," Daniels added.
     The 1997 Home Food Safety Study suggested that unsafe food safety
 practices were commonplace in homes.  The 1999 study attempted to identify the
 reasons for violations by determining if the circumstances were educational or
 motivational.  In 2000, Audits International expanded the study to explore the
 impact of awareness on food safety.  "When the study is next conducted, A.I.
 will more strictly qualify education," said Daniels.  "When we do the 2001
 study later this year, we will focus on the relationship between awareness and
 education," he added.
     Audits International is a leader in providing independent information
 about food safety and food quality including food safety risk assessment,
 product or package performance, crisis assistance or resolution.  It has the
 largest third-party field test inspection force in the US.  Through its
 network of highly-trained field auditors, located throughout the US and
 Canada, Audits International evaluates systems and products in thousands of
 restaurants, food service facilities and supermarkets each year.  For a copy
 of the 2000 Home Food Safety Study, visit the company's website at
 www.audits.com .
 
 

SOURCE Audits International
    NORTHBROOK, Ill., April 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Improvement in home food safety
 practices appears to be on the decline according to the findings of the 2000
 Home Food Safety Study conducted by Audits International, the leader in food
 safety risk assessment.  This newest study, the third to be conducted since
 1997, observed respondents' food safety and sanitation practices during a meal
 prepared in their own kitchens.  Performance was measured against the same
 standards that restaurants are required to pass.   The bottom line offers a
 bad news/new news/good news scenario.  The bad news: three-fourths of the
 population is still "doing it wrong;" the new news:  homes are no better than
 restaurants; the good news:  increasing consumer food safety awareness will
 net significant improvements.
     According to Richard W. Daniels, President of Audits International, "We
 believe the root cause for the decline in improvement is due to the overall
 decline in negative media coverage.  The extensive rate of improvement evident
 between our 1997 and 1999 studies was directly attributable to the public's
 media-driven fears about hamburgers, eggs, chicken and even lettuce.  Since
 that time, the rate of negative media impressions has decreased, and
 unfortunately, so has the rate of improvement."
     "In addition, for the first time, we were able to compare home performance
 with that of restaurants.  Comparing our data to that in FDA's Report of the
 Retail Food Program Database of Foodborne Illness Risk Factors, it seems
 likely that half of the foodborne illness in this country results from
 problems at home, Daniels added.
     Data for the 2000 Study was collected from a total of 115 households in 74
 metropolitan areas.  A.I.'s network of highly trained auditors observed food
 preparation, service, left-over handling and clean-up for one-meal.  To pass,
 as with the previous two studies, a home needed zero critical violations
 (issues which, by themselves, can cause foodborne illness).  "The significance
 of the comparison to restaurants is huge," said Daniels.  "Whenever people get
 sick they immediately ask, Where did I last eat out?  This study suggests that
 the more appropriate first question should be, What did I eat?
     An additional first, the 2000 Study probed the reasons critical violations
 occurred.  Responses were categorized in one of three ways:
     -- motivation - I know but don't believe it  - 20% of participants
     -- education - I didn't know - 40% of participants
     -- awareness - I wasn't thinking - 40% of participants
 
     "It's true that the average number of violations decreased slightly since
 1999. Yet, nearly three out of four households still had at least one critical
 violation.  And, even more important,  is the dramatic decline in people
 claiming to take more food safety precautions than previously.  Clearly,
 despite all the educational efforts, the vast majority of folks are still
 doing it wrong," said Daniels.
     "Certainly continuing to educate people is very important," Daniels added.
 "However, we believe the arena where we will make the greatest impact is with
 that group that just wasn't thinking."
     "The analogy that best illustrates the importance of awareness is the use
 of seatbelts.  Some of us automatically put them on before starting a car.
 Others intend to wear the belts but frequently forget until they've been
 driving for 5-10 minutes.  Superimpose all the potential, critical food safety
 violations that could occur in that same ten minute period in the average
 kitchen.  It's clearly time we start working on raising the food safety
 awareness bar," Daniels added.
     The 1997 Home Food Safety Study suggested that unsafe food safety
 practices were commonplace in homes.  The 1999 study attempted to identify the
 reasons for violations by determining if the circumstances were educational or
 motivational.  In 2000, Audits International expanded the study to explore the
 impact of awareness on food safety.  "When the study is next conducted, A.I.
 will more strictly qualify education," said Daniels.  "When we do the 2001
 study later this year, we will focus on the relationship between awareness and
 education," he added.
     Audits International is a leader in providing independent information
 about food safety and food quality including food safety risk assessment,
 product or package performance, crisis assistance or resolution.  It has the
 largest third-party field test inspection force in the US.  Through its
 network of highly-trained field auditors, located throughout the US and
 Canada, Audits International evaluates systems and products in thousands of
 restaurants, food service facilities and supermarkets each year.  For a copy
 of the 2000 Home Food Safety Study, visit the company's website at
 www.audits.com .
 
 SOURCE  Audits International