WASHINGTON — Consumers still care about food safety, but the percentage of Americans who have given a lot of thought to the safety of food and beverages has slipped, and so too has their confidence in the U.S. food supply, according to the International Food Information Council Foundation’s 2014 Food and Health Survey.
The survey of 1,005 Americans aged 18 to 80 found that 38% have given food and beverage safety “a lot” of thought in 2014, down from 40% in 2013 and 41% in 2012. The number of Americans giving food safety “a little” thought also has slipped, falling to 44% in 2014 from 47% in 2013. Meanwhile, 16% of those surveyed said they have given food and beverage safety no thought, which compared with 11% of respondents in 2013% and 13% in 2012.
A steady erosion in consumer confidence in the U.S. food supply has taken place over the past several years, according to the IFIC study. In 2014, only 12% of Americans said they were “very confident” in the U.S. food supply. This compared with 15% in 2013 and 20% in 2012. The percentage of Americans “somewhat confident” also has slipped, with 54% admitting to this feeling in 2014, compared with 55% in 2013 and 58% in 2012. A quarter of all Americans, 25%, said they were “not too confident” in the U.S. food supply in 2014, which was up from 23% in 2013 and 15% in 2012.
“When it comes to information about food safety, food ingredients and the way foods and beverages are farmed and produced, government agencies are consumers’ go-to source, chosen as most trusted by 39%, 26%, and 28%, respectively,” IFIC said. “Social media and TV personalities were considered the most trusted resource for all three information categories by only 2% or fewer consumers. The news media rated 5%, 3% and 12%, respectively.”
When shopping for food, 34% of Americans said “getting sick from something I eat” was the most important food safety issue they consider, followed by “chemicals in food or packaging” at 23%, “pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables” at 16% and “unfamiliar ingredients that I don’t recognize” at 8%.www.foodinsight.org