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K-State Today

April 17, 2013

International reach: Sensory Analysis Center conducts global consumer food safety study

Submitted by Communications and Marketing

The Sensory Analysis Center at Kansas State University is leading a 10-nation study to learn about consumer food safety practices and beliefs.

"This is the first global study of its kind," said Edgar Chambers IV, university distinguished professor and director of the center. Also on the research team are Kadri Koppel, research assistant professor in human nutrition at Kansas State University, and Sandria Godwin, a dietetics professor at Tennessee State University, as well as researchers in nine other countries.

The study is part of a suite of projects related to food safety for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, several companies and university collaborators around the world.

"The research will help countries develop food safety policies and educational programs," Chambers said. He gave a preliminary report on the study at the Global Food Safety Summit in Barcelona, Spain, earlier this month. His presentation was "Consumer Food Safety: Global Interest and Individual Realities." 

The center surveyed 100 or more consumers in each country about current food safety practices related to purchase, storage, preparation and use of leftovers. They were also asked about their beliefs related to food safety, Chambers said.

"What we have learned so far is that everyone around the world is concerned about food safety," he said. "But beliefs, knowledge base and practices are very different."

For example, in the United States, 99 percent of shoppers buy eggs from refrigerated compartments, but in other countries studied, shoppers regularly buy eggs that have not been refrigerated: Spain, 88 percent non-refrigerated eggs; Thailand, 60 percent non-refrigerated; and Columbia, 80 percent non-refrigerated.

"It's fascinating to see how we differ from the rest of the world in our food-related behaviors," Chambers said. 

The study will be completed in May.

Kansas State University's College of Human Ecology Sensory Analysis Center on the Manhattan campus provides testing services to companies worldwide and maintains satellite centers in Olathe, Kan., and in Bangkok, Thailand. The center offers a master of science and a doctoral program in sensory analysis through the department of human nutrition.