Study: Consumer food-safety focus, confidence falls

by Eric Schroeder
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WASHINGTON — Consumers still care about food safety, but the percentage of Americans who have given a lot of thought to the safety of food and beverages has slipped, and so, too, has their confidence in the US food supply, according to the International Food Information Council Foundation’s 2014 Food and Health Survey.

The survey of 1,005 Americans aged 18 to 80 found that 38 percent have given food and beverage safety “a lot” of thought in 2014, down from 40 percent in 2013 and 41 percent in 2012. The number of Americans giving food safety “a little” thought also has slipped, falling to 44 percent in 2014 from 47 percent in 2013. Meanwhile, 16 percent of those surveyed said they have given food and beverage safety no thought, which compared with 11 percent of respondents in 2013 percent and 13 percent in 2012.

A steady erosion in consumer confidence in the US food supply has taken place over the past several years, according to the IFIC study. In 2014, only 12 percent of Americans said they were “very confident” in the US food supply. This compared with 15 percent in 2013 and 20 percent in 2012. The percentage of Americans “somewhat confident” also has slipped, with 54 percent admitting to this feeling in 2014, compared with 55 percent in 2013 and 58 percent in 2012. A quarter of all Americans, 25 percent, said they were “not too confident” in the US food supply in 2014, which was up from 23 percent in 2013 and 15 percent in 2012.

“When it comes to information about food safety, food ingredients and the way foods and beverages are farmed and produced, government agencies are consumers’ go-to source, chosen as most trusted by 39 percent, 26 percent, and 28 percent, respectively,” IFIC said. “Social media and TV personalities were considered the most trusted resource for all three information categories by only 2 percent or fewer consumers. The news media rated 5 percent, 3 percent and 12 percent, respectively.”

When shopping for food, 34 percent of Americans said “getting sick from something I eat” was the most important food-safety issue they consider, followed by “chemicals in food or packaging” at 23 percent, “pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables” at 16 percent and “unfamiliar ingredients that I don’t recognize” at 8 percent.

For the full report, visit www.foodinsight.org.
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