Investigation of ethnic food safety: microbiological and consumer behavioral approaches
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] As ethnic cuisines become popular in the United States, more foodborne illnesses associated with ethnic cuisine have been observed by food safety professionals. Relatively few studies/researches have been devoted to ethnic cuisines. This study aims to explore ethnic food safety by considering microbiological and consumer behavior perspectives. The first phase of this study examined assessments of the microbial quality of four types of ethnic restaurant food, including Mexican, Italian, Chinese, and Japanese foods. The total aerobic bacterial counts, Bacillus, coliforms and Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Salmonella spp. were identified. The Analysis of Variance based on GLM procedure using an SAS program was used to analyze the different numbers of microorganisms among the food samples. The results among the food samples showed differences in aerobic plate counts, although Bacillus counts were found to be less than 1 log CFU/g, and coliforms, E. coli, S. aureus, and Salmonella spp. were not detected in any of the food samples. The second phase of this study explored the relationships among the following variables: protection motivation, food neophobia, risk perception toward ethnic cuisines, food safety information, and consumer intention to visit ethnic cuisine restaurants. The results based on the structural educational modeling using AMOS 19 and ordinal logistic regression using IBM SPSS support the following findings: a) the influence of risk perception on consumers' intentions to visit Chinese restaurants; b) the influence of protection motivation on consumers' risk perception toward Chinese cuisines; c) the mediating effect of risk perception on the relationship between food neophobia and intention to visit ethnic restaurants; d) the intention to visit ethnic restaurants; and e) the influence of food safety information on consumer's risk perceptions toward ethnic menus.
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