Survey shows concerns about where food comes from

by Eric Schroeder
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UTICA, N.Y. — While knowing what country a food comes from is no guarantee it will be safer than food produced in the United States, 90% of Americans believe knowing the country of origin will allow for safer food choices, according to a new survey from Zogby International, a polling, market research company.

The on-line survey, conducted July 17-19, was based on interviews with 4,508 adults.

The survey found 74% of Americans believe it’s important to know the country of origin for all types of products they buy, with 85% saying knowing where food comes from is important. Even more — 94% — said consumers have a right to know the country of origin on the foods they purchase, Zogby said.

But according to the survey, wanting to know the country of origin and actually checking to find out where a product comes from are two different thing. Thirty-seven per cent said they check most of the time, while 34% said they check occasionally. Only 11% of those surveyed said they always check to see where a product comes from, while 15% rarely do and 4% never check, Zogby said.

Looking at labeling, the Zogby survey found 88% of Americans strongly favor mandatory country of origin labeling beyond seafood to include meat, produce and other foods. Five per cent disagreed with mandatory country of origin labeling for foods, with 63% saying compliance would be too costly, 27% saying it doesn’t matter what country food comes from, and 2% saying labeling could be unfair to foreign competitors.

A vast majority of shoppers (70%), said they would be willing to pay more for produce, poultry, meat, seafood and other food products if they were from the United States, with nearly half (46%) saying they would pay 10% to 25% more. Thirty-four per cent said they would pay up to 10% more for U.S. food, while 11% said they would spend 25% more.

Of the 15% of Americans who said they would not be willing to pay more for food from the United States, 38% said cost was the key reason why, while 27% said it simply doesn’t matter what country the food they buy comes from.

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