AbstractAuthorities identified a widespread outbreak of E.coli 0157H7 associated with romaine lettuce in Canada and the US during the winter and spring of 2018. While the public health agencies of each country acknowledged the outbreak, there was no official recall of romaine lettuce. However, the Consumers Union, an advocacy group that publishes Consumer Reports, called for American consumers to avoid romaine lettuce, and this was widely reported in the news. Given how unusual it is for an advocacy group to provide this type of guidance while the government did not, we decided to conduct an experiment to see if American consumers would notice. The current research used an online survey with a nationally representative sample of over 1400 American adults. Data were collected in May and June, 2018, shortly after the E.coli outbreak had ended. Participants were presented with a hypothetical scenario about an E.coli outbreak that mimics the romaine lettuce outbreak, except they were told that the affected food was cucumbers. The group announcing the guidance was experimentally varied (US Food and Drug Administration, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, or Consumers Union). The study tested whether American consumers notice the source of food safety advice. The study also tested whether, for those who do notice the source, behavior differs by source, and how trust in the source affects behavior. We also looked at demographic and experiential factors that might affect who is aware of the message source, and whether those same variables are related to likely behavior.
RightsCopyright for scholarly resources published in RUcore is retained by the copyright holder. By virtue of its appearance in this open access medium, you are free to use this resource, with proper attribution, in educational and other non-commercial settings. Other uses, such as reproduction or republication, may require the permission of the copyright holder.