Kosa KM, Cates SC, Ball M, Godwin SL, Coppings RJ. Consumers' response and preparedness to ensure food safety during extended power outages: findings from a national survey. International journal of food safety, nutrition and public health. 2014 Jul 17;5(1):34-45. doi: 10.1504/IJFSNPH.2014.063503

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.

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