CENTENNIAL, COLO. — As a part of the Beef Industry Safety Summit held earlier this year, the Beef Checkoff conducted research to benchmark consumer opinion of beef industry safety efforts. Although consumers indicated they are increasingly concerned about food safety, they also recognize efforts the industry has made to improve beef safety.

Since 1993, beef producers have invested more than $27 million of their checkoff dollars in beef safety research, and the industry as a whole invests $350 million annually on safety interventions.

Study highlights include:

  • Consumers are concerned about food safety:  
  • Sixty-nine percent of consumers, up from 49% in November 2008, said they believe the number of food recalls and foodborne illnesses is on the rise. 
  • One quarter of those surveyed are more concerned about food safety than they were six months ago.
  • When asked about the beef industry’s efforts to improve beef safety, 81% agreed that the entire beef industry — from farmers and ranchers to processors and retailers — is working to provide consumers with safe, wholesome food.
  • Seventy-eight percent of consumers agreed that safeguards developed by beef-industry scientists have made ground beef safer than ever.
  • Seventy-seven percent agreed that the beef industry uses cutting edge science and technological innovations to improve beef safety continually.

In recent beef-safety efforts, the U.S.D.A. announced conditional approval of an E. coli O157:H7 vaccine. This vaccine, the first approved in the United States to reduce E. coli O157:H7 shedding in cattle, is a major milestone for beef-safety efforts.