Using Focus Groups to Study Consumer Understanding and Experiences with Tamper-Evident Packaging Devices

Authors

  • Melvin A. Pascall,

    1. Authors Pascall, Lee, and Halim are with Dept. of Food Science and Technology, Ohio State Univ., 2015 Fyffe Rd., Columbus, OH 43210-1007, U.S.A. Author Fraser is with Food Science and Human Nutrition, A203B Poole Agricultural Center, Clemson Univ., Clemson, SC 29634, U.S.A. Direct inquiries to author Pascall (E-mail: pascall.1@osu.edu).
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  • Ken Lee,

    1. Authors Pascall, Lee, and Halim are with Dept. of Food Science and Technology, Ohio State Univ., 2015 Fyffe Rd., Columbus, OH 43210-1007, U.S.A. Author Fraser is with Food Science and Human Nutrition, A203B Poole Agricultural Center, Clemson Univ., Clemson, SC 29634, U.S.A. Direct inquiries to author Pascall (E-mail: pascall.1@osu.edu).
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  • Angela Fraser,

    1. Authors Pascall, Lee, and Halim are with Dept. of Food Science and Technology, Ohio State Univ., 2015 Fyffe Rd., Columbus, OH 43210-1007, U.S.A. Author Fraser is with Food Science and Human Nutrition, A203B Poole Agricultural Center, Clemson Univ., Clemson, SC 29634, U.S.A. Direct inquiries to author Pascall (E-mail: pascall.1@osu.edu).
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  • Linna Halim

    1. Authors Pascall, Lee, and Halim are with Dept. of Food Science and Technology, Ohio State Univ., 2015 Fyffe Rd., Columbus, OH 43210-1007, U.S.A. Author Fraser is with Food Science and Human Nutrition, A203B Poole Agricultural Center, Clemson Univ., Clemson, SC 29634, U.S.A. Direct inquiries to author Pascall (E-mail: pascall.1@osu.edu).
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Abstract

ABSTRACT:  A focus group with an educational component was used to help initiate a new research hypothesis. Early-stage development of a new tamper-evident invention was improved with input from a consumer focus group. The focus group comprised consumers who were shown several tamper-evident devices, including a new color-changing cap under active development. We found that consumers understood tamper-evident food packaging and recognized when devices were triggered. Most said that they always checked tamper-evident food packaging but further query revealed that they only did this for certain products. Consumers were ambivalent about paying more for foods protected by tamper-evident devices, including the color-changing one. None rejected the color-changing device but some recommended changes that would improve the invention. Some mentioned that new devices are unnecessary because current technology is effective in keeping food safe. An educational session conducted in conjunction with the focus group sessions showed that some peoples' initial negative attitude changed to positive support for new color-changing devices after learning about food security concerns. We found that a focus group was useful for shaping academic research and identifying the most practical outcomes. A focus group provided a unique interactive assessment of consumers' understanding of the usefulness and critical research needs in developing a tamper-evident device.

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