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Food safety knowledge and changes in practices and concerns of Indian families during the COVID-19 pandemic

Sunaina Thakur (Department of Food and Nutrition, Lady Irwin College, University of Delhi, New Delhi, India)
Pulkit Mathur (Department of Food and Nutrition, Lady Irwin College, University of Delhi, New Delhi, India)

Nutrition & Food Science

ISSN: 0034-6659

Article publication date: 27 May 2022

Issue publication date: 7 February 2023

116

Abstract

Purpose

Unsafe food can lead to various foodborne diseases and even death, especially among children. This paper aims to assess food safety knowledge and changes in practices and concerns among adults ≥ 18 years during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Design/methodology/approach

A cross-sectional, web-based survey was conducted among 325 adults living in Northern India. Demographic data and information regarding their knowledge, practices and concerns about various food safety issues were collected to see if there were any changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Findings

The results showed that the participants had slightly higher than average knowledge and good food safety practices with mean scores of 9.75 ± 2.23 and 24.87 ± 2.28, respectively. Contracting COVID-19 from food and food packaging materials was of high concern for more than 70% of the participants. Majority (> 80%) of them reported an increase in the frequency of handwashing. About 16% of the participants used chemical disinfectants for washing fruits and vegetables. An increase (57.5%) in the frequency of food label reading was also noted during the pandemic. Freshness and the general quality of food items (49.5%), safety of food (30.8%) and cost (18.2%) were the top drivers that influenced the purchase decision.

Originality/value

This study highlighted the need to send out clear messages on safe food handling practices and keeping the tempo up for sustaining good hygienic practices. This will help in reducing the risk of foodborne diseases.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank all the respondents for taking out time to participate in the survey.

Funding: The first author is in receipt of a Senior Research Fellowship from UGC, India, for her PhD work. However, UGC had no role in writing of this original research paper.

Conflict of interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Authors’ contribution: S.T. – conceptualisation, data methodology, investigation, writing, review and editing; P.M. – conceptualisation, data methodology, supervision, writing, review and editing.

Citation

Thakur, S. and Mathur, P. (2023), "Food safety knowledge and changes in practices and concerns of Indian families during the COVID-19 pandemic", Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 53 No. 2, pp. 319-333. https://doi.org/10.1108/NFS-02-2022-0034

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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