Consumers were interviewed about how they purchase, transport, store, and otherwise handle food. Emphasis was placed on handling of cold foods and home refrigeration. More than 70% of consumers took steps to protect cold foods during purchase and transport and more than 90% claimed to put away cold foods first. Only 7% of consumers used coolers to protect cold foods during transport. How consumers stored a variety of foods was determined and evaluated. Few consumers knew their own or correct refrigerator temperature and few had refrigerator thermometers. A second interview and refrigerator checklist were completed in 200 of the consumers' homes at least a year later. Researchers judged that circumstances that might allow for cross-contamination existed in 41% of the refrigerators examined. A large percentage of refrigerators were above recommended temperatures. There is a need to disseminate current food-safety and home-refrigeration information as consumer lifestyles adapt to the changing global economy. Consumers need to assume responsibility for temperature control of foods within their homes.


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