Too many consumers slacking on safe food preparation

May 27, 2009

Despite having been polled during the height of a Salmonella outbreak, the number of Americans taking food safety precautions was down for nearly every action vs. the previous year.

An online survey conducted by the International Food Information Council Foundation found that when cooking, preparing or consuming food, fewer Americans reported washing their hands with soap and water (87% vs. 92% in 2008); washing cutting boards with soap and water or bleach (77% vs. 84% last year); cooking food to the required temperature (71% vs. 76%); and properly storing leftovers within two hours of serving (69% vs. 79%).

Consumers are also deviating from microwave food instructions more frequently. Fewer than seven in ten (69%) said they follow all cooking instructions, compared to 79% last year. Likewise, fewer Americans flip, rotate or stir during the microwave cooking process (62% vs. 72% in 2008); let food stand for appropriate time after microwaving (48% vs. 58% in 2008); and increase or decrease cooking times based on the wattage of the microwave (48% vs. 58% in 2008).

“I’m a little disappointed that fewer Americans are taking food safety precautions to reduce risks, but the good news is almost all Americans (95%) say they are frequently taking at least one food safety precaution when cooking, preparing or consuming food,” said Tony Flood, director of food safety communications for IFIC.

Americans’ confidence in the safety of the U.S. food supply remained stable in 2009, with 49% expressing trust. The majority of respondents hold food manufacturers and government (both 72%) responsible for food safety, followed by farmers/producers (57%), retailers (49%) and consumers and individuals (41%).


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