Mental Models of Pasteurized and Unpasteurized Milk Product Consumption in the United States

Lydia C. Medeiros, Jeffrey LeJeune

Biblographic citation: Food Protection Trends, vol. 38, no. 1, pp. 27-51, Jan 2018

Volume 38, Issue 1: Pages 27–51

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The objective of the study was to create mental models of Americans who consume either pasteurized or unpasteurized milk products. An online survey was conducted using a modified snowball-sampling technique; 1103 responses were received, 454 of which were valid and accepted for statistical analysis. Parametric and nonparametric statistical procedures were used to detect differences among four groups based on residence (urban/rural) and milk consumption preference (pasteurized/unpasteurized). Four mental models were developed using distinguishing outcomes from ANOVA, Chi-Square tests, discriminant analysis or hierarchical linear regression. All models show that the respondents were information avoiders but differed in their sources of information on milk safety and depth of information processing. The strongest predictor of milk consumption behavior was attitude about milk healthfulness, especially that of unpasteurized milk, and the role of government and the dairy industry in regulating and advocating for responsible milk production and practice. This study demonstrates that major differences related to milk consumption choice are rooted in values, opportunities, knowledge, and the desire to seek out knowledge about the safety of milk products. The mental models of milk consumption can inform instructional efforts of educators and regulators to encourage the safe consumption of milk products by consumers.

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