Risk factors for foodborne diseases include consumption of high-risk foods and unsanitary food-handling practices; however, little is known about the prevalence of these risk factors in the general population. A survey was done in five FoodNet sites (California, Connecticut, Georgia, Minnesota, Oregon) to determine the prevalence of these risk factors in the population. A total of 7,493 adults were interviewed by telephone between 1 July 1996 and 30 June 1997. Results showed that 1.5% drank raw milk, 1.9% ate raw shellfish, 18% ate runny egg, 30% preferred pink hamburger, 93% said they almost always washed their cutting board after cutting raw chicken, and 93% said they almost always washed their hands after handling raw meat or poultry, during 5 days before interview. The results differed by state and demographic group. Consumption of raw shellfish (3.2%) and undercooked hamburger (43%) were more common in Connecticut than other states. Raw milk consumption was more common among people who lived on a farm (8.6%) compared with people who lived in a city or urban area (1.1%). Preference for undercooked hamburger was more common among men (35%), young adults (18 to 25 years, 33%), people with college education (38%), and among people with household income of more than $100,000/year (49%). African-Americans were less likely to prefer undercooked hamburger compared to other racial groups (10% versus 30%). Young adults compared to older adults were less likely to wash their hands after handling raw chicken (88% versus 95%), and men washed their hands less often than women (89% versus 97%). Although there were statistical differences between demographic groups, they are insufficient to warrant targeted educational programs.

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