Various stages of the food chain, from production to processing to distribution, can impact food safety. The concept of "food defense" has emerged as a countermeasure against intentional contamination of food with foreign substances. Although knowledge of food hygiene is common among consumers, there are currently no reports of consumer surveys on food defense. This study aims to investigate consumer awareness of food defense and food safety. We analyzed the results focusing on how consumers behave when they find abnormalities in food to further our knowledge on promoting food defense measures. Participants completed a web-based questionnaire that included items related to awareness of food safety and food defense, as well as actions to be taken in cases of food abnormalities, such as contamination by foreign substances, the presence of a bad smell in purchased food, and the inclusion of extra items not selected by the individual. The participants were asked to indicate their preference among the 5 suggested actions in each case using a 6-point Likert scale. Data analysis involved aggregating responses into binary values. Stepwise linear regression analysis was conducted to examine the relationship between selected actions and questionnaire items, such as sex, age, and personality. A total of 1442 respondents completed the survey, and the majority of participants placed importance on food safety when making food purchases. The recognition of each term was as follows: 95.2% (n=1373) for "food security and safety," 95.6% (n=1379) for "food hygiene," and 17.1% (n=247) for "food defense." The percentages of those who answered that they would "eat without worrying" in the case of "contamination by foreign substances," "bad smell," or "including unpurchased product" in the frozen food they purchased were 9.1% (n=131), 4.8% (n=69), and 30.7% (n=443), respectively. The results showed that contacting the manufacturer was the most common action when faced with contaminated food or food with a bad smell. Interestingly, a significant percentage of respondents indicated they would upload the issue on social networking sites. Logistic regression analysis revealed that male participants and the younger generation were more likely to choose the option of eating contaminated food without worrying. Additionally, the tendency to upload the issue on social networking sites was higher among respondents who were sociable and brand-conscious. The findings of this study indicate that if food intentionally contaminated with a foreign substance is sold and delivered to consumers, it is possible consumers may eat it and experience health problems. Therefore, it is crucial for not only food manufacturers but also food delivery service providers to consider food defense measures such as protecting food from intentional contamination. Additionally, promoting consumer education and awareness regarding food defense can contribute to enhancing food safety throughout the food chain.

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