This study analyzes public perceptions of food safety using a national survey conducted in November 2006, soon after the September 2006 nationwide spinach recall. We explore relationships between peoples’ perceived risks of food contamination (spinach in this case) and their trust in the institutions in charge of safeguarding/ensuring safety. Finally, we examine relationships between individual observance of basic good food handling practices and food safety. Trust in institutions through which food passes and regulatory agencies were shown to be critical in determining food safety perceptions. For example, confidence in the USDA as a regulatory agent was viewed positively, and hence contributed toward viewing the four types of spinach as safe for consumption. Conversely, skepticism with which the public views food corporations (processors, transporters, or retailers) impacted food safety perceptions negatively.


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