According to the World Health Organization, the reported cases of food-borne infections amount to 600 million annually and of these about 40% originate in the household. However, these numbers can be even higher since most of the symptoms of food-borne infections disappear after just one or two days, and therefore often go unreported. Given that it is already accepted that a significant proportion of food food-borne infections result from inappropriate handling and preparation of food by consumers, it is important to understand what prompts them to make these mistakes, what beliefs and convictions (myths) are widespread in the population and what socio-demographic factors contribute to their propagation. An online questionnaire was conducted and answered anonymously by 486 consumers. The results were processed and statistically analysed using MS Excel® and Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS version 28®) software for Windows 10. The questionnaire contained 74 statements susceptible to being food myths. Based on the answers obtained, the population distribution and the participants' sociodemographic factors that may have influenced their knowledge were analysed for 35 of them. For each of the proposed statements analysed, it was sought to find its degree of veracity. It was found that, on average, the percentage of participants who answered correctly to the statements susceptible to being myths was 54.5%, with 26.2% and 19.3% answering incorrectly and taking no position, respectively. In the questions relating to the more general aspects of food safety, such as how rare a steak or hamburger can be eaten and how expiration dates work, there was an average of 51.8% correct answers, 27.1% wrong answers and the highest average of those who neither agreed nor disagreed with the statement, with 21.1%. In the questions related to conservation, such as the possibility of bacteria developing in the freezer, on average there were 59.1% correct answers, 26.1% wrong answers and 14.9% neutral answers. In the questions related to food handling, on average, 59.1% of the answers were correct, 21.1% were wrong and 19.7% neither agreed nor disagreed with the statement. Finally, it was found that in 18 questions (51.4%), at least 50% of the participants answered correctly, and that in another 9 questions, the most popular option was also correct. In summary, consumers have some knowledge regarding the recognition of food myths, however, a strong investment in consumer education continues to be necessary in order to reduce the risks faced on a daily basis caused by incorrect beliefs.
|Date of Award||16 Mar 2022|
- Universidade Católica Portuguesa
|Supervisor||Paula Teixeira (Supervisor) & Rui Leandro Alves da Costa Maia (Co-Supervisor)|
- Food safety
- Food safety myths
- Foods hazards
- Mestrado em Biotecnologia e Inovação