Consumers desire disclosure on food safety issues

by Staff
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YONKERS, N.Y. — Consumers are largely concerned about food safety and want the government to inspect the food supply more frequently and to publicly disclose where food safety problems arise, according to a poll conducted by Consumer Reports National Research Center.

"Consumers want to know that the food they buy meets the standards they expect — our poll shows that right now, this is not the case," said Urvashi Rangan, senior scientist and policy analyst at Consumers Union. "Whether that means ‘organic’ fish eat 100% organic feed without contamination or that people know which meat and dairy products come from cloned or genetically engineered animals, consumers want the government to ensure safety, quality and meaning in the food marketplace. The American public wants to know more about their food, where it comes from, how safe it is, and will vote with their dollars to support highly meaningful labels."

Seventy-three per cent of those surveyed said they consider the overall food supply as safe, but nearly half said their confidence in the safety of the nation’s food supply has decreased. Only 54% of Americans think the government is doing all it can to ensure food safety, and 83% of respondents are concerned with harmful bacteria or chemicals in food. In addition, 81% of Americans are concerned with the safety of imported food.

The poll also revealed Americans want the F.D.A. to inspect domestic and foreign food processing facilities more often, and 8 in 10 consumers strongly agree that when a food safety problem arises the F.D.A. should disclose to the public the location of retailers who sold the food in question. The U.S.D.A. currently does this for meat.

Consumers want loopholes in country-of-origin-labeling closed as 94% of Americans want specialty meat and fish stores to label their products with origin information and 95% want processed or packaged foods labeled by country or origin and believe COOL labeling should be available at the point of purchase.

Also, nearly 7 in 10 Americans believe cloning of food animals should be prohibited, and nearly 6 in 10 consumers are concerned about meat or milk products from cloned or bioengineered animals. While the F.D.A. recently proposed allowing such products to be sold without labeling, consumers disagree, with 95% wanting food products from bioengineered animals to be labeled, 94% wanting meat and dairy products from cloned animals labeled and more than 6 in 10 Americans saying they would not buy products from bioengineered or cloned animals.

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