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Brazilian Journal of Food Technology

On-line version ISSN 1981-6723


ANDRADE, Juliana Cunha de et al. Consumer perception of risks associated with food, safety and traceability. Braz. J. Food Technol. [online]. 2013, vol.16, n.3, pp.184-191. ISSN 1981-6723.

An increase in consumer interest in food safety has been observed in the last few decades. Governments have been pressed to adopt measures that assure the safety of foods and, as a consequence, legislation related to the contamination of food by physical, chemical and microbiological contaminants is being implemented. Within this context it is relevant to investigate the perception of Brazilian consumers on such issues. The present work evaluated the criteria used by consumers from Rio de Janeiro and Campinas to buy foods, and their vision of the risks of food contamination. The perception of consumers on traceability and its importance in contributing to the safety of foods was also evaluated using the Focus Group methodology. Three sessions were carried out (two in Campinas and the third in Rio de Janeiro). Differences were found between the consumers from the two cities. The Campinas consumers were more concerned and interested in the matter than those from Rio de Janeiro, since they reported looking for more information on the food labels. Mention was made of the risks of food poisoning, botulism, and pesticides by respondents in both cities. The main products considered as showing health risks were meats and seafood, the latter particularly in Rio. Products considered safe by consumers included fruits (without pesticides), vegetables and dried products. All the consumer groups were concerned about food contamination by pesticides and heavy metals. In relation to microbiological contamination, the three groups highlighted the risks of bacteria, especially Salmonella. Traceability was considered relevant by the three groups, since it should contribute to a more efficient product recall if necessary. However, from the consumer perspective, it will also lead to a price increase, although increasing consumer confidence in the safety of the foods. Many of the consumer concerns reflected information published in magazines and newspapers, such as the use of hormones in chicken. Industries and retailers should communicate scientific information about safety topics, thus contributing to consumer education.

Keywords : Consumer; Contaminants; Traceability; Focus group.

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