Survey of Consumers’ Knowledge of Food Safety of Perishable Foods Purchased at Local Farmers’ Markets
This study was conducted to determine the knowledge and practices of consumers who frequent local farmers’ markets (FMs). A total of 270 consumers at six FMs in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan were inter-viewed. Eleven questions were asked in face-to-face inter-views or by self-reported questionnaire. Questions covered basic information, purchasing frequency, food handling practices, food safety concerns, and food safety responsi-bilities. Data from surveys were analyzed using chi-square tests for significant differences in responses (P = 0.05). Results revealed that 24.3 to 34.7% of participants purchased fresh vegetables and fruits once every week per season. Most participants (93.5 to 97.5%, P < 0.05) thought “availability,” “freshness,” and “flavor and taste” were “very” to “extremely important” in their decision regarding which perishable foods to purchase. More than 80% of participants reported that they always washed their hands and produce before preparing foods at home. Fewer than 50% of the participants reported refriger-ating their purchased foods within 30 min. Most of the participants (>85%) never checked the thermometer of the vendor’s booth. Over half of the participants (64.8%) believed that farmers and vendors should take the great-est responsibility for the microbial safety of products at FMs. These results emphasized the need for consumer education regarding safe food handling practices at FMs, especially temperature control of perishable foods.
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