Food consumption patterns in the Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada: a cross-sectional telephone survey

Nesbitt, Andrea; Majowicz, Shannon; Finley, Rita; Pollari, Frank; Pintar, Katarina; Marshall, Barbara; Cook, Angela; Sargeant, Jan; Wilson, Jeff; Ribble, Carl; Knowles, Lewinda
January 2008
BMC Public Health;2008, Vol. 8, p370
Academic Journal
Background: The demographics and lifestyles of Canadians are changing, thereby influencing food choices and food preparation in the home. Although different dietary practices are associated with increased risk of foodborne illness, our ability to evaluate food consumption trends and assess risks associated with foodborne illness is limited by lack of data on current eating habits and consumer food safety practices. The objective of this study was to describe, for the first time, the food consumption patterns in a Canadian-based population from a food safety perspective, in order to establish baseline data on actual food intake of individuals. Method: A cross-sectional telephone survey of 2,332 randomly selected residents of Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada (C-EnterNet pilot site) was conducted between November 2005 and March 2006. Food intake was assessed using a 7-day dietary recall method. Results: Certain food items were consumed more than others among the same food groups, and consumption of many food items varied by gender and age. Specific foods considered high-risk for the transmission of certain enteric pathogens were significantly more likely to be consumed by males (i.e. unpasteurized juice, bean sprouts, and undercooked meat) and elderly individuals (i.e. undercooked eggs). The majority of households prepared and consumed most meals at home, allocating an average of 44 minutes to prepare a meal. Conclusion: Baseline data on actual food intake is useful to public health professionals and food safety risk assessors for developing communication messages to consumers and in foodborne outbreak investigations.


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