Canadians have inconsistent food safety behaviours: study

February 11, 2009 in Food Safety, Gastrointestinal Health, Nutrition Topics in the News

Canadians have inconsistent food safety behaviours: study
The same Canadians who obsess over best-before dates at the supermarket are casually pouring expired milk into their coffee at home, according to a new study on freshness standards which will be published in the June 2009 issue of The Journal of Consumer Research.

In this study, 165 people were given yogurt smoothies that were past their "best if enjoyed by" date but still considered safe to eat. Some were told that they could take their yogurt home, while others had to leave it behind.

Nearly 40 percent of the participants who were told the treat could be taken home were willing to consume the smoothie.

Only 13 percent of those who didn't get to keep the yogurt were willing to eat the expired food.

The researchers concluded that people were more likely to consume food that may be unsafe if it came from their own refrigerators rather than from a store or outside setting.

People who feel a food or drink belongs to them are more likely to rationalize consumption of a less-than-fresh item.

The "five second rule" commonly applied to eating something dropped on the floor is a good example of such behaviour.

As the economic downturn forces further stretching of grocery dollars, we can expect to see more this type of behaviour, says one food scientist from the University of Guelph.

Besides ensuring freshness, expiry dates are intended to prevent food-borne illnesses like listeria and salmonellosis.

Ignoring "best before" dates may increase risk of food poisoning, particularly with meats and milk products that have been opened.

If you are tempted to consume expired food, remember the food safety rule "When in doubt, throw it out".

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.