Consumer habits change post-listeriosis

Last summer’s listeriosis outbreak has changed some Canadians’ eating habits, suggests a new survey by the University of Guelph. Almost 40 percent of consumers surveyed say they never eat ready-to-eat meats at home, up from only six percent from before the outbreak. And 56 percent say they never eat ready-to-eat-meat products in fast food outlets or restaurants, which is up from nine percent.

Twenty people died as a result of the outbreak, which was linked back to tainted deli meats from Maple Leaf, and countless others became sick. This survey, headed by Prof. John Cranfield of the Department of Food, Agriculture and Resource Economics, used the Guelph Food Panel to try and gauge the longterm effects of the outbreak on consumer behaviour and consumer confidence.

However, overall confidence in the safety of Canada’s food supply remains high. About 70 percent of those surveyed indicated their perception of the safety of food products, meat and food as a whole has not changed.

But their trust in the food-chain to protect them from listeria is only moderate, with farmers believed to have the greatest ability to ensure the safety of food. Restaurants, grocery stores and the food-service sector were judged to have the least ability.

For more survey results, view the news release from the University of Guelph.

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