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Rutgers study finds many consumers ignore food product recalls
Date:4/14/2009

be the way to overcome the sense that the messages are meant for someone else. Providing consumers with recall information about specific products they have purchased makes it harder for them to ignore the advice to look for the recalled items.

But even when people find recalled food, not all do what they are told. Approximately 12 percent reported eating a food they thought had been recalled. [0]At the other extreme, some consumers take a "better safe than sorry" attitude. More than 25 percent reported that they had simply discarded food products after hearing about a recall, potentially wasting safe, nutritious food. Many consumers also avoid purchasing products not included in the recall but which are similar, or are from the same manufacturer.

"Our research also points out that instructions to consumers must be clear and comprehensible if you want them to act appropriately after a food recall," Hallman said. He cites the Food and Drug Administration's recent advice to consumers not to eat pistachios, but to hold onto them and not throw them away as confusing to consumers.

"We found that clear, direct messages such as 'throw the food in the garbage' or 'return the food to the store for a refund,' should motivate action. Keeping people in a holding pattern is more likely to result in inaction, and it certainly increases the likelihood that someone might eat the food by accident."

The authors of the study are William K. Hallman and Cara L. Cuite, researchers at FPI, and Neal H. Hooker, a researcher at the Ohio State University. The study was funded by the United States Department of Agriculture and the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

An earlier report based on data from the same survey provided insight into consumer awareness of the Salmonella Saintpaul advisory in the summer of 2008. The report is also available at www.foodpolicy.rutgers.edu.

FPI is a research unit of Rutgers' New Jersey Agricultural Exp
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Contact: Joseph Blumberg
blumberg@ur.rutgers.edu
732-932-7084 x652
Rutgers University
Source:Eurekalert

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