By: Ashley Eisenbeiser, MS, CFS, Senior Director, Food and Product Safety Programs, FMI

On September 23, 2020, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a press release highlighting new consumer research on the preparation of frozen foods. The research revealed that consumers may not know how to safely cook frozen foods which could increase the risk of  families getting foodborne illness in their homes.

More specifically, the press release states, “Consumers may not know that some frozen foods are not fully cooked or ready to eat, especially if they have browned breading, grill marks or other signs that normally show that a product has been cooked. In the recent USDA study, 22% of participants said a not-ready-to-eat frozen chicken entrée was either cooked, partially cooked, or they weren’t sure that the product was in fact raw.”


Along with the research report on frozen food, USDA also published findings from a survey on consumer food safety behaviors. The survey collected information on “various topics, including consumer use and satisfaction with the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, awareness of and response to food recalls, awareness of and understanding of foodborne illness outbreaks, and food safety behaviors related to grilling and serving food buffet style.”  

These reports are part of a multi-year, mixed-method study that Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) commissioned to evaluate various consumer food handling behaviors. These research reports, along with an index of FSIS’ consumer research reports related to food safety education programs and consumer behavior are available here.

The findings from these reports highlight the importance of consumer food safety education. The food industry has invested tremendous resources in food safety over the past decades and consumers expect safe food. According to FMI’s 2020 US Grocery Shopper Trends Reportnine out of 10 shoppers have confidence in the safety of the food at the grocery store. We also see that consumers believe that food safety is a collective responsibility and they too play an important role in keeping food safe.  

Frozen foods are a convenient option for families preparing meals at home as they are often able to be prepared easily and relatively quickly. The Power of Frozen report highlights the growth of the frozen category over the past few years. 

FMI supports the food industry in helping consumers safely prepare food at home through the support of the Partnership for Food Safety Education (PFSE).  FMI is a founding member of PFSE and has been a partner of PFSE since its inception in 1997.  FMI works with PFSE to bring food safety information to consumers by promoting the “Core Four Practices” of safe food handling– Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill–to a variety of audiences through a network of food safety educators and thought leaders.  

Below are some resources from the Partnership for Food Safety Education to support your efforts to help consumers prepare and serve healthy, safe meals.

1.  Core Four Practice Fact Sheets

Clean Fact Sheet | Separate Fact Sheet | Cook Fact Sheet | Chill Fact Sheet

2.  Story of your Dinner

3. Safe Recipe Style Guide

4. Produce Pro

5. Go 40 or Below

6. USDA Consumer Research

7. Food Safety Consumer Research Project: Meal Preparation Experiment on Raw Stuffed Chicken Breasts Full Report | Executive Summary

8. Food Safety Consumer Research Project: Web-based Survey on Food Safety Behaviors and Consumer Education Full Report | Executive Summary

We will be participating in USDA’s public meeting on consumer food safety eduation on October 6.