F.D.A. seeks input on proposed food recall study

by Eric Schroeder
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WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration is soliciting comments until Aug. 17 on a proposed survey that would gauge consumers’ reactions to food recalls, according to a June 18 notice in the Federal Register.

The proposed “Survey on consumers’ emotional and cognitive reactions to food recalls” would be conducted under a cooperative agreement between the Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition and the Center for Risk Communication Research at the University of Maryland.

“The proposed study will assess consumers’ emotional and cognitive recollection of certain food recalls and gauge how these recollections affect their current perceptions about food recalls and their inclination to adhere to future recommended food recall behaviors,” the F.D.A. said. “Existing data show that many consumers do not take appropriate protective actions during a foodborne illness outbreak or food recall.”

As examples of the confusion around consumers’ responses to food recalls, the F.D.A. cited two studies from the State University of New Jersey. One study showed 18% of consumers said they stopped buying bagged, fresh produce following a spinach recall in 2006, while another study conducted in 2009 found 41% of U.S. consumers never look for any recalled product in their home.

The F.D.A. said it plans to survey 10,000 members of an Internet-based U.S. consumer panel. The survey will query consumers on their recollection of food recalls within the past five years; attitude toward recalled foods; knowledge about particular food recalls; behavior during the food recall; assessment and appraisals of susceptibility, severity, satisfaction, and self efficacy.

“Findings from this study will help F.D.A. understand the emotional response to food recalls,” the F.D.A. said. “This will help F.D.A. to design more effective consumer food recall messages during and after a recall.”

Comments may be submitted through www.regulations.gov.

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