CHICAGO – Dramatic shifts have emerged in the primary sources consumers use to get information on food-system issues, as well as the organizations they view as most credible about the humane treatment of farm animals.

According to new research released by the Center for Food Integrity, early adopting consumers prefer online sources for information about the food system, followed by friends and family and their local television station, according to the research. Traditional media sources, including newspapers and radio, were least preferred by early adopting consumers.

Consumers view non-governmental organizations as the most credible sources about the humane treatment of farm animals, the research also shows. Consumer impressions about profit motivation drive them to seek information from sources they consider non-biased, said Charlie Arnot, CFI CEO.

“The research indicates consumers feel information from a non-governmental organization is significantly more credible than a group that profits from the meat industry,” Arnot said. “The closer you are to the money, the less credible your information.”

Following non-governmental organizations, consumers view farm-animal veterinarians and university experts as the most credible sources of information about the humane treatment of farm animals.

“These results make it increasingly important for food-system organizations to partner with credible groups and connect with consumers using shared values,” Arnot said. “Demonstrating we share an ethical obligation to ensure animals are well cared for is more important than ever before.”

CFI’s research was presented Oct. 6 at the organization’s 2010 Food System Summit in Chicago. The web-based survey was completed by 2002 respondents who reflect the overall composition of the population. The survey has a sampling error at the 95% confidence level (+/- 2.2%).