Although not well quantified, a portion of food-borne illnesses results from voluntary behaviors that are entirely avoidable, such as eating raw foods of animal origin or engaging in unsafe food preparation practices. A telephone survey of 1,620 respondents was conducted to assess the prevalence of selected self-reported food consumption and preparation behaviors associated with increased risks of food-borne illness and the demographic characteristics related to such behaviors. The percentages of survey respondents who reported consuming raw foods of animal origin were 53%, raw eggs; 23%, undercooked hamburgers; 17%, raw clams or oysters; and 8%, raw sushi or ceviche. A fourth of the respondents said that after cutting raw meat or chicken, they use the cutting board again without cleaning it. Safer food consumption and preparation behaviors were consistently reported by persons who were female, were at least 40 years old, and had a high-school education or less. These findings suggest that risky food consumption and preparation behaviors are common in the United States and that educational campaigns aimed at changing these behaviors may need to be targeted to specific groups of persons.

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