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Matern Child Health J. 2004 Sep;8(3):149-62.

Awareness and acceptance of current food safety recommendations during pregnancy.

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Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523-1571, USA.



To better understand pregnant women's food safety attitudes and beliefs that affect food selection, preparation and handling behaviors, sources of food safety information, motivators and barriers to adopting current recommendations, and preferences for receiving food safety materials.


Eleven focus groups were conducted with 69 women (57 pregnant and 12 less than 6 months postpartum). The Health Belief Model guided development of the moderator's guide. In the presence of each focus group, participants completed a food safety attitude/behavior questionnaire. Sessions were audiotaped, transcribed, and analyzed for common themes across and within groups.


Most participants indicated moderate concern about food safety and had made some food handling or consumption changes since becoming pregnant; however, many were not following 7 of the 12 specific recommendations discussed. Further, there was resistance to change habits, especially for less well-known recommendations. The women assumed their food is safe, and wanted strong evidence regarding why they should change current practices. Common barriers included lack of prior awareness of most recommendations, no prior illness from implicated foods and the convenience, perceived health benefits of, and personal preference for many risky foods discussed. Participants wanted food safety information that was quick and easy to read, sufficiently thorough, and specifically targeted to pregnant women.


The women studied had not internalized the connection between risky food consumption during pregnancy and risk to the unborn child, but expressed interest in valid information that might cause them to change their behaviors. The information gained will be useful in developing food safety educational materials for pregnant women.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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