Consumer Preferences for Labeling of Not-Ready-to-Eat Meat, Poultry, and Egg Products
Carter-Young, H., Cates, S. C., Kosa, K. M., Post, R. C., & Canavan, J. (2003, August). Consumer Preferences for Labeling of Not-Ready-to-Eat Meat, Poultry, and Egg Products. Presented at International Association for Food Protection Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA.
In response to the requirement to reassess their Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans for ready-to-eat (RTE) meat, poultry, and processed egg products with respect to Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) control, some manufacturers have changed their products' processing categories. Consequently, the features on product labels that tell consumers whether a product is not-ready-to-eat (NRTE) or partially cooked, as opposed to RTE and fully cooked, have become unclear. The authors conducted focus groups to assess consumers' perceptions and understanding of labeling terms and features that convey that products are NRTE and thus require cooking for safety before consumption. USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) provided funding to conduct a total of 14 focus groups with consumers in seven locations. Participants expressed confusion about inconsistency in product labeling with regard to cooking for safety requirements. Many participants use information on product labels or packaging to determine whether products require cooking. To indicate that cooking for safety is required, participants preferred the use of logos (i.e., a frying pan icon with the phrase 'Requires cooking'); standardized phrases, such as 'Cook thoroughly'; and colorcoding schemes with standardized phrases on NRTE product labeling. Many participants believed the government should mandate consistent labeling of NRTE products. In addition, some participants supported mandatory preparation instructions to help consumers safely prepare NRTE products. The study findings, in conjunction with other research, may help guide FSIS policy decisions regarding labeling of NRTE meat, poultry, and processed egg products.