Confidence in supermarket food safety slipping

by Keith Nunes
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CHICAGO — Sixty-three per cent of American consumers surveyed by The NPD Group agreed with the statement "Overall, I feel that foods sold in supermarkets are safe." The result is the same as last year and five percentage points lower than 2004. The survey is a part of The NPD Group’s Food Safety Monitor program and consisted of approximately 13,000 adults.

"I believe that consumers’ slipping confidence in the safety of supermarket food is less about food safety and more about supermarkets expanding food service operations and offering more prepared, ready-to-eat foods," said Harry Balzer, vice-president of The NPD Group. "More food handling issues and concerns come into play when foods are prepared for you. Consumer are now extending the concerns they have about the safety of foods served at restaurants to supermarkets."

The percentage of consumers who feel that foods served at restaurants are safe has remained on average, between 48% and 49% since 2004, according to the Food Safety Monitor.

"Consumers are more concerned about the safety of food served in restaurants than food available from supermarkets, about a 15 percentage point difference," said Mr. Balzer. "However, feelings about food safety in restaurants have remained relatively unchanged whereas the number of consumers who feel confident in the safety of foods in supermarkets is declining."

Salmonella, E. coli, trans fatty acids, mercury in seafood and bovine spongiform encephalopathy were the top 5 food safety concerns cited by survey participants.

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