Consumer perceptions on food safety in Asian and Mexican restaurants
Posted: February 20th, 2012 - 1:38pm
Source: Food Control
Dining out is a frequent activity for most Americans. Ethnic food restaurants like Chinese and Mexican are the most sought after dining experience after American cuisine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) foodborne outbreak data from 1990-2000 shows an increase of foodborne outbreaks from ethnic restaurants. Focus groups and an online survey were conducted to explore consumer perceptions of restaurant food safety and attitudes toward ethnic restaurants. Twenty-seven Californians participated in focus groups and volunteers (n=994) in both California and Florida completed an internet survey. While respondents noted that they only dine at restaurants where they trust the food, Mexican restaurants scored higher in food safety confidence than Asian restaurants. Kitchen cleanliness was the most important factor influencing safety followed by restroom cleanliness and cooking temperature. People believed all restaurant employees should be trained in food safety, restaurant inspections should be more frequent, and the government should be more active in protecting consumers. Food safety is an underlying factor in restaurant selection and continued patronage. Women and seniors scored higher on seriousness of food safety adherence in restaurants while young males respondents reported to worry less about food safety when dining out. Word of mouth and the internet were the most frequently cited sources of food safety information. While respondents believed they are knowledgeable about food safety, they often failed to recognize signs of foodborne illness. Incorporating information about consumer attitudes into food safety training courses could help ethnic restaurant owners be mindful of their customers’ expectations.