A Review of Food Recalls in Canada: A Nationwide Survey

Sylvain Charlebois, Caitlin Cunningham, Isabelle Caron, Janet Music, Simon Somogyi Biblographic citation: Food Protection Trends, vol. 39, no. 4, pp. 317-325, Jul 2019 Volume 39, Issue 4: Pages 317–325

This study examined the Canadian food recall system from the consumer perspective through an online survey to determine whether recall fatigue is a problem among consumers. Recall fatigue occurs when consumers are inundated with such an excess of information on food recalls that it causes apathy toward food safety. Optimistic bias, the belief that others are at risk, but not one’s self, also contributes to recall fatigue, which can lead to public health risks. Results indicate that although consumers generally have some knowledge of food recalls, they do not retain or subsequently internalize information about all food recalls. Results also indicate that Canadians have confidence in the current recall system. However, Canadians across all demographics place the responsibility for food safety on others, namely the federal government. Despite the fact that foodborne illnesses can originate in the home, the majority of Canadians believe they are more likely to occur as a result of actions taken before food reaches their home. The combination of apparent information overload, optimistic bias and inaccurate risk assessment regarding food recalls puts Canadians at risk of recall fatigue.

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