• Latent class analysis was used to find out if the population could be divided into distinct clusters of people with similar profiles of food safety activities, based on responses to the FSA’s Food and You Survey. Food and You is a cross-sectional survey of adults in the UK, containing a range of questions around activities, attitudes and knowledge relating to food safety and other food-related issues.
• Overall, we identified some distinct groups in the population, although there was also quite a lot of similarity across the groups in terms of patterns of food safety activities. People in the largest cluster (54% of the sample) generally tended to report food safety activities that were in line with FSA recommendations, except for washing raw meat and poultry, and storing raw meat and poultry, where a majority of people in the cluster reported activities that were not in line with FSA recommendations. This cluster had a very similar demographic profile (e.g. gender, age, ethnicity) to that of the population as a whole.
• People in the second largest cluster (29% of the sample) were the most likely to report most food safety activities in line with recommendations. However, people in this cluster were also the most likely to report washing raw meat and poultry, which is not in line with recommendations. More than half of this cluster was female and a higher proportion than average lived in households with children aged under 16.
• Those in the third cluster (10% of the sample) generally reported a similar pattern of food safety activities to those in the largest group (Cluster 1), but the cluster was distinct in that all members reported that they never re-heated food. This cluster included a higher than average proportion of people aged 75 years and over, and of white ethnicity.
• People in the fourth cluster (7% of the sample) tended to respond ‘not applicable’ to questions relating to the handling and cooking of raw meat, poultry and fish, suggesting they were rarely involved in these activities. In other aspects, this cluster was relatively similar to Cluster 1. Around two-thirds of the cluster were male, with a higher than average proportion of people aged 16 to 24 years and of black, Asian or other ethnicity. Over a third (38%) reported being vegetarian.
• Those in Cluster 5, the smallest cluster (1% of the sample), also tended to respond ‘not applicable’ to questions relating to the handling and cooking of raw meat, poultry and fish. They also reported that they never reheated food, and they were also more likely to respond ‘not applicable’ to cooking food to steaming hot, suggesting that they were much less likely to be involved in cooking and preparing food in general. Around three-quarters of this cluster were male, with a higher than average proportion of people aged 75 years and over.
• Further analysis was undertaken to investigate the relationship between demographic characteristics, responses to other food-related questions, and classification to either the first cluster (the majority) or the second cluster (where respondents were the most likely to be practicing high standards of food safety).
• The findings suggest that there is some clustering of food-safety-related activities but that some of the differences between the clusters may primarily reflect different levels of engagement with preparing and cooking food, and consumption of different types of food, rather than different patterns in the food safety activities themselves. Further analysis is needed to explore this and whether other food-safety-related activities included in Food and You may be part of this patterning.