Believing certain food safety myths may increase the risk of disease, a study suggests.
Researchers examine the possible consequences of false unscientific beliefs and lack of science-based food safety knowledge affecting health.
Food safety myths are believed by many in the UK, Germany and Norway, but perceptions vary from country to country. Research published in Food Control found that believing some of these myths put people at higher risk for foodborne illness.
After collecting over 150 food safety myths across Europe from partners in the SafeConsume project, 47 people were included in the survey.
Vegetarians don’t get food poisoning?
Researchers conducted a web-based survey of more than 3,000 consumers from the UK, Germany and Norway to investigate Which rumours are believed to be true and whether this affects the incidence and prevalence of gastroenteritis. People were asked if they disagreed or agreed with the statements.
Results show that many people believe food safety myths, which are positively associated with gastroenteritis incidence and prevalence.
The biggest links observed were beliefs about eggs, such as storing eggs at room temperature and eating raw eggs to cure a hangover; wooden cutting boards, peppers, mustard, and marinades kill bacteria ; Vegetarians do not suffer from food poisoning;
Gastroenteritis incidence data from another 2019 SafeConsume survey. Data and reported prevalence and incidence of gastroenteritis episodes received food safety belief statements were analyzed.
In Germany, more people think that if you heat healthy food too much, you will lose your health; after the food is cooked, all bacteria have been killed and it is safe to eat, chicken before eating should be cleaned.
More Britons believe the ancient traditional way of preparing food than modern methods and that all food should be kept at 2 degrees Celsius (33.8 degrees Fahrenheit). Norwegians may believe that if food smells good, it’s safe to eat. Other myths include eating oysters only if there is an “r” in the month name, and the five-second rule that food is placed on the floor.
Influence some myths
Researchers have identified eight categories of beliefs, From a point of view about heating, about what foods are safest, about what kills germs, about hygiene and superstition. People first form beliefs and then look for evidence to support them.
A large percentage of consumers believe organic food is safer than conventional agri-food.
Three beliefs related to organic food Campylobacter and chicken: Bacteria cannot survive on wooden cutting boards, Salt kills everything dangerous, Chicken should be washed before preparation, which is related to gastroenteritis prevalence was significantly correlated.
Despite several campaigns warning about the risks of washing chicken, many consumers continue to do so before cooking, which was confirmed in research as more than half of respondents agreed that washing chicken before preparing should be cleaned.
On average, 15% of respondents agree that the best hangover breakfast is raw eggs. Eating raw egg products is a risk factor for salmonellosis.
One in five respondents believes that eggs stored in the refrigerator are not as safe as eggs stored at room temperature. Storing eggs in the refrigerator can prevent bacterial growth, but they can become contaminated while laying.
Future research is needed to investigate why beliefs about food safety myths are associated with gastroenteritis incidence and prevalence. Other work should look at approaches to behavior change, including correcting false beliefs.
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