Situated food safety behavior
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonAppetite. 2020, 153 (1). 10.1016/j.appet.2020.104751
Previous studies indicate that many consumers eat rare hamburgers and that information about microbiological hazards related to undercooked meat does not necessarily lead to changed behavior. With this study we aim to investigate whether consumers’ willingness to eat hamburgers, both risky and safe, depends on the situation where they are confronted with the food. A representative sample of 1046 Norwegian consumers participated in a web experiment. Participants were randomly divided into four groups. Each group was told to imagine a specific eating situation (at their friend's place, at home, at a restaurant abroad, at a domestic restaurant). Four pictures of hamburgers (rare, medium rare, medium, well-done) were presented in randomized order, and participants rated their intentions to eat each hamburger. Situated risk perception was measured as the stated likelihood of food poisoning from consuming hamburgers in eight different situations. The results show that both risk perception and risk taking vary depending on the situation. In general, participants perceive their own home to be the safest place to consume a hamburger, but they are significantly more likely to consume an undercooked hamburger when at a friend's place. These findings indicate that situations play an important role for consumers' likelihood of eating unsafe food, and that risk taking does not always follow risk perception. That risk taking is elevated in situations that may have social consequences should be taken into consideration when developing food safety strategies.