Changing Behavior, Attitudes, and Beliefs About Food Safety: A Scoping Review of Interventions Across the World and Implications for Empowering Consumers

Foodborne illnesses are a global public health issue. Responsibility to prevent foodborne disease is shared by many actors along the food supply chain, including consumers. However, consumers often lack knowledge about food safety and behaviors that can reduce risk. Consumers are often targeted for interventions to address these gaps, but a current comprehensive analysis of such interventions globally by type, geography, and outcome is lacking in the literature. In addition, there is a need to understand how individual interventions could be broadened to include the relationships between consumers and other actors in the food system, and how targeted communication strategies can affect behavior. We conducted a rigorous scoping review to assess consumer-facing food safety interventions carried out globally over the past 20 years, and categorized and analyzed them by type of intervention, methods, and outcomes to understand which interventions might be effective in changing consumer behavior, knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions on food safety. Ninety-two interventions were reviewed, the majority of which were published in the last 10 years in North America. Most target adults, and 25% are directed at women and mothers. Health or risk communication interventions are becoming increasingly common to move beyond skill-based education and address risk perceptions of food safety that might motivate consumers. Only two studies addressed risk perception in consumers to potentially change food handlers' behavior outside of the home. This review suggests that focusing on risk perception combined with strategies that leverage emotion and trusted sources, such as respected peers or family members, might be useful strategies for interventions.

This article, and its companion piece published in the Journal of Food Protection, was adapted from a GAIN EatSafe program report.