The French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES) said the INCA 3 study showed the emergence of certain issues in the microbiological safety of food.
These include increased consumption of raw foods of animal origin (mainly fish and beef), longer storage times before eating perishable foodstuffs, use-by dates more frequently exceeded and inappropriate temperatures in refrigerators.
More than 80% of those aged 15 to 79 consume raw foods of animal origin (eggs, meat, fish and molluscs) potentially exposing consumers to foodborne diseases.
“The foodstuffs most often consumed raw are eggs or home-made preparations containing raw eggs, such as mayonnaise and chocolate mousse (65% of individuals aged from 15 to 79 years), fish, particularly in the form of sushi (31%), and molluscs (23% of adolescents and 46% of adults),” according to the study.
“Beef is the meat that is most frequently consumed raw (18% of adolescents and 30% of adults).”
Consumption of raw foods of animal origin by adults has grown since the INCA 2 study, with a doubling of the rate of raw fish consumers (from 15% to 31%) and a significant increase in raw beef (from 24% to 30%).
Pastries and cakes are kept at room temperature by a quarter of households but cream-based pastries need to be stored in a cool place, said ANSES.
Most households leave meat, vegetables, soups and starches to cool at room temperature before placing them in the refrigerator or freezer. For more than 65% of them, this cooling-down time is less than two hours, as recommended by ANSES in 2013.
Concerning maximum storage periods before consumption, ham, smoked salmon and pre-packaged meat are consumed before the use-by date by around half of households and cooked dishes by only a third of households.
More than 5,800 people responded as part of the national survey in 2014 and 2015 and were asked 150 questions about lifestyle and eating habits.