Food industry must do more to improve food safety: survey

by MEAT&POULTRY Staff
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MILWAUKEE — Although most of the food industry may be following safe production procedures, the majority of the public doesn’t feel it does enough, according to a recently-released American Society for Quality survey. Food safety is still igniting widespread concern, according to the survey of U.S. adults conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of A.S.Q.

Conducted to gauge how consumers feel about food safety, food recalls and where responsibility lies when it comes to tainted food, the survey found:

  • Ninety-three percent of adults say food manufacturers, growers or suppliers should be held legally responsible when individuals are fatally sickened by tainted food.
  • Sixty-one percent of U.S. adults feel the U.S. food-recall process is only fair or poor.
  • Seventy-three percent of adults say they are as equally concerned about food safety as they are on the war on terror.
  • Eighty-two percent of adults believe the food industry should be required to follow international standards on food safety.

"The United States overall does have a safe food supply," said Steven Wilson, member of A.S.Q.’s board of directors and A.S.Q. food-safety expert. "However, whether food manufacturers have process controls in place or not, some have plant sanitation issues that they need to address. The problem lies with a specific outbreak. Determining its root cause is often difficult and necessary, otherwise correcting the root cause and preventing future outbreaks can’t be achieved."

Eighty percent of adults believe the federal government should select the agencies that inspect the facilities of food manufacturers. Forty-eight percent said they trust the government’s ability to ensure the safety of food products. Only half believe the federal government does a good job enforcing laws that ensure our nation’s food supply is safe.

Ninety-three percent of adults are aware of instances of food recalls due to health and safety concerns in the last three years. This is up from a 2007 Harris Poll showing 79% were aware of food recall occurrences in the last three years.

Food recalls have become even more of a serious concern for adults (47%) versus the 2007 Harris Poll data (29%). A total of 92% of Americans are at least somewhat concerned about recalls.

When recalls on brands adults usually purchase occur, 47% would temporarily purchase another brand and then purchase the recalled brand once it was safe. This is down from 55% in 2007. Twenty-seven percent of adults would avoid using any brand made by the manufacturer of a recalled product. This is up from 21% in 2007.

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of A.S.Q. Feb. 25-27 among 2,078 adults ages 18 and older.

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