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Abstract

Each year, microbial pathogens cause millions of cases of foodborne disease and result in many hospitalizations and deaths. Effective consumer education programs to promote safer food handling practices and other averting behaviors may benefit from consumer awareness of microbial pathogens. This paper investigates U.S. consumers' awareness of four major microbial pathogens (Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria and E. coli) as food safety problems, using a multinomial probit model. The awareness varies among pathogens and the variations appear to be related to differences in the number and severity of illnesses associated with these pathogens. Our findings suggest that awareness of microbial pathogens is associated with food safety perceptions, awareness of potentially risky foods and substances associated with potential food safety hazards, food safety related behaviors and experience, and demographics. Differentiated effects of variables on awareness of the four pathogens are found to be existent.

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