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Improving food safety in the domestic environment by risk analysis of consumer food handling and evaluation of risk-reducing measures(188384

Awarded: NOK 9.3 mill.

Food contamination creates a significant social and economic burden on communities and their health systems. In 2005, about 30% of reported food borne outbreaks in Norway originated to food consumed at home. Food producers or retailers are often pointed o ut as responsible in food associated outbreaks, despite the fact that proper handling by the consumer would in many cases eliminate the risk. At present, there is a lack of information about Norwegian consumers knowledge of microbial risks and hygienic ha ndling of food, their perception of home as a location for food borne illness, their attitudes to food hygiene, and actual behaviour. Also, the hygienic standard and incidence of pathogenic bacteria in Norwegian kitchens is not known. This information i s crucial for risk analyses (both for producers and authorities), development of safer foods (the product itself, packaging or labelling) and development of educational or informational strategies to reduce risks. It is a need for a trans-disciplinary ap proach to provide an effective way to improve food safety in the domestic environment. The aim of this project is to reduce food borne disease in Norway related to improper consumer handling of food. This will be achieved through 1) Collecting science-bas ed data on consumer knowledge, attitudes, behaviour and hygienic level in kitchens in Norway, 2) identify critical food handling practices in the domestic environment, 3) identify efficient risk preventing measures based on the critical food handling meas ures and consumer attitudes to possible risk-reducing measures, and 3) provide more relevant information to Norwegian consumers about safe handling of food. Most published projects on this topic focus on risk communication to reduce risks, but in this pro ject development safer food products will also be considered. The project will produce information that is important for food producers, retailers, education institutions, the authorities and Norwegian consumers.