Title: Consumers' response and preparedness to ensure food safety during extended power outages: findings from a national survey

Authors: Katherine M. Kosa; Sheryl C. Cates; Melanie Ball; Sandria L. Godwin; Richard J. Coppings

Addresses: RTI International, 3040 Cornwallis Road, P.O. Box 12194, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA ' RTI International, 3040 Cornwallis Road, P.O. Box 12194, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA ' RTI International, 3040 Cornwallis Road, P.O. Box 12194, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA ' Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, Tennessee State University, 3500 John A. Merritt Blvd., Nashville, TN 37209, USA ' Natural and Physical Science, Jackson State Community College, 2046 North Parkway, Jackson, TN 38301, USA

Abstract: To understand consumers' food safety attitudes, knowledge, and practices regarding emergency preparedness and response, we conducted a nationally representative survey of adults who had experienced an extended power outage (n = 502). Only 16% of respondents were fully prepared to ensure food safety during the most recent extended power outage. Many respondents did not follow recommended food safety practices. For example, 69% of respondents smelled perishable food to determine whether it was safe to eat, a potentially unsafe practice. Moreover, respondents have taken limited steps to ensure food safety during a future power outage. The findings suggest that despite widely available information on emergency preparedness and response, many Americans are not well prepared to ensure food safety during extended power outages. The overall study findings will help identify gaps in consumers' food safety knowledge and practices, to improve existing educational materials, and ultimately to help reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

Keywords: consumers; food safety; power outages; consumer response; consumer preparedness; emergency preparedness; emergency response; perishable food; foodborne illness.

DOI: 10.1504/IJFSNPH.2014.063503

International Journal of Food Safety, Nutrition and Public Health, 2014 Vol.5 No.1, pp.34 - 45

Available online: 16 Jul 2014 *

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