is it safe to allow mass assignment of associations?

Item belongs_to :user attr_accessible :user

is this safe? Item.user_id is still protected, and Item.user can't be set by mass assignment from a web request because the parameters are all strings - trying to assign a string to Item.user raises AssociationTypeMismatch. Even setting params['item']['user'] to an empty string would raise an error.

The benefit of this approach is that I can still use mass assignment of associations in my own code.