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Research article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

Food safety risk perceptions and mitigation techniques in the dumpster diving community in Sweden

Corneus, Allyson; Boqvist, Sofia; Soderqvist, Karin


An online questionnaire was used to investigate behaviors and habits relating to food retrieval by Swedish dumpster divers. Respondents were also asked to share information on their background, reasons for engaging in dumpster diving, and perceptions of potential bacterial hazards associated with the consumption of dis-carded foods. The questionnaire was mainly distributed to Swedish social media groups focusing on dumpster diving, and a total of 92 responses were received. The most common reason given for engaging in dumpster diving was to reduce food waste and associated negative environmental impacts (60%, n = 55). Many of the respondents (65%) had completed university education, and around three-quarters (73%) had some form of employment or were enrolled in studies. Half the respondents (52%, n = 48) perceived a risk of falling ill after consuming food obtained through dumpster diving, but very few (2%) reported they had been made ill by food they had picked up from dumpsters. Around one-fifth (22%) of the respondents did not know of any bac-teria that could cause foodborne infections or food poisoning. Salmonella was mentioned by 35% of the respon-dents, while Listeria was mentioned by 18%. The respondents reported employing various techniques to reduce the risk of encountering harmful microbiological agents, for example, rinsing their food retrievals or discarding food that appeared spoiled. These are novel findings on dumpster divers' perceptions of perceived health risks and the strategies they use to mitigate such risks with food obtained through dumpster diving.


Alternative lifestyle; Best before; Food waste; Foodborne bacteria; Foodborne disease; Shelf-life

Published in

Journal of Food Protection
2023, Volume: 86, number: 1, article number: 100007
Publisher: ELSEVIER