ROCKVILLE, MD. — In the wake of Chipotle Mexican Grill’s E. coli outbreak, a national consumer survey conducted by market research publisher Packaged Facts has learned that nearly three out of four consumers (74%) think fast-food restaurants should monitor food safety more closely. The survey was conducted during the November-December 2015 timeframe when Chipotle's ongoing problems with E. coli outbreaks received heavy mass-media coverage.
One out of every six Americans (48 million people) gets sick by consuming contaminated foods or beverages annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.). Packaged Facts’ data found that while a slight majority (53%) of U.S. consumers say that their level of concern about food safety has stayed about the same in the past few years, 46% say their level of concern has increased and only 1% say it has decreased.
U.S. food and beverage companies recalled approximately 500 products for food safety and mislabeling issues, which has led to more Americans being concerned about food safety, according to Packaged Facts.
“The large number of consumer illnesses and product recalls demonstrates that all companies in the food and beverage industry need to be careful of food safety and proper labeling,” said David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts.Challenges to food safety may be expected to arise due to changes in the food production, supply and distribution chain (including more imported foods and more products being shipped longer distances, leading to more multistate outbreaks); new and different contaminated foods, such as organic sprouted chia powder and packaged caramel apples; environmental changes leading to food contamination; and new and emerging strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.