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Consumer Education

In addition to the information provided via food product labels, consumers need to understand how to use the information to make decisions. Likewise, consumers need to understand how to handle and prepare food at home to reduce the risk of unsafe foods. These pages overview educational programs intended to help consumers better understand food safety and food nutrition needs and information.

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Consumer Education -- introduction

  • Consumer still need to make their own decisions; labeling addresses the concern of making sure the consumer has access to appropriate information about the product; consumer education focuses on whether the consumer is able to use that information to make a meaningful decision. Advertising and discretionary information on labels are additional ways to inform and educate, but these too are somewhat regulated to assure boundaries are not overstepped; that is, that the information is not misleading.
  • The food industry is dynamic -- consumers have different information, understanding and expectations than they did several decades ago; consumers' demand changes as they grow older, as their family and career situation changes, and as their income changes. Technology is changing. Simple matters such as packaging, degree of processing and additives/ingredients are changing. How do these changes impact the person responsible for food safety within a food business?
  • Distinction between nutrition, food safety and promotion becomes quite blurred; much of the mandatory/required information on the label is nutritional information; much of the discretionary information is to encourage the consumer to use the product due to its convenience, taste, or similar characteristics. Neither of these objectives appeared to emphasize food safety.
  • There also are (formal?) educational programs about safe food preparation and (formal?) educational programs about nutrition.
  • Reading labels

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Consumer Education -- nutrition

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Consumer Education -- food safety

  • USDA FSIS food safety magazine:  "be FoodSafe: The FSIS Magazine is a quarterly publication that focuses on food safety behavior trends, emerging science and research, inspection issues (domestic and international), and education programs for food workers, consumers and caregivers." 
  • Safe Food Handling -- WIC web site with links to information for consumers about safe food handling
  • Fight BAC! -- again -- an educational program on food safety for consumers

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Email David.Saxowsky@ndsu.edu

This material is intended for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for competent legal counsel. Seek appropriate professional advice for answers to your specific questions.

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