Are you gonna eat that? Study shows food safety fears change eating habits

June 19, 2008

Over half of consumers have stopped eating certain foods, either temporarily or permanently, as a direct result of food safety fears, according to Deloitte.

The survey, commissioned by the firm’s consultancy arm, demonstrated how food safety faces ever-growing scrutiny in the US, with highly-publicized food recalls and safety scares from China preying on consumers’ minds.

Concern about safety was found to be particularly high in regards to meat products as well as food imported from outside of the States.

“These findings underscore how urgent it is for food manufacturers to do all they can to address the problem of food recalls head-on,” said Pat Conroy, Deloitte LLP’s vice chairman.

“Over half of consumers say they may drop your product if they believe you are not doing what it takes to protect them and their families.”

Deloitte’s survey

-The survey polled a nationally representative sample of 1,110 consumers.

-It found that 57 percent of respondents stopped consuming a certain product following a food scare, and nearly three-quarters believe the number of food-related recalls has increase in the past year.

-Even more (76 percent) said they are more concerned about the foods they eat than they were five years ago.

-The product that most worried consumers is beef, with 78 percent of respondents expressing concern about the meat. Chicken recalls have also prompted concern, with 67 percent saying they felt unease about it.

-The survey found that 53 percent were cautious about fruit and vegetables because of recalls, and the same number remained apprehensive about dairy products.

-Respondents were found to have reservations about foods produced outside the US, with 56 percent considering imported foods as “not at all” or “somewhat” safe. In contrast, 80 percent thought domestically produced foods are safe.

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