Surveys are never enough: U.K. Freezer habits edition

Ten years ago, as a bunch of University of Guelph students were barfing in their residence bathrooms with noro, Brae Surgeoner, Doug and I hatched plot to observe hand hygiene practices in situ. We wanted test whether students in the midst of an outbreak would report they were really good at washing their hands or using sanitizer. We guessed that what they said, and what we would see, would be drastically different.IMG_5317 In a self-reported survey, 83 of 100 students said they always followed proper hand hygiene but estimated that less than half of their peers did the same. When we watched them, we saw students following recommended hand hygiene procedures just 17 percent of the time. Asking people what they know or do is a start. But it’s never enough. People lie, forget or don’t care. Employing other methods to confirm what they say they do is necessary to confirm actions. Like using a freezer, according to BBC. Misconceptions about frozen food are contributing to the seven million tonnes of waste thrown out by UK households every year, the Food Standards Agency says. Of the 1,500 people it surveyed, 43% wrongly thought food could only be frozen on the day it was bought, suggesting confusion over food safety. According to the FSA’s research, 38% of people mistakenly thought it was dangerous to refreeze meat after it had been cooked. Almost a quarter, 23%, said they would never freeze meat that was cooked after defrosting, with 73% of those citing worries about food poisoning. More than two thirds, 68%, had thrown food away in the past month, mainly bread (36%), fruit (31%), vegetables (31%) and leftover meals (22%). Households in the UK waste the equivalent of about six meals a week on average, the FSA said.