Poll: Americans think food safety is pretty good

McClatchy NewspapersOctober 20, 2008 

WASHINGTON — What's the scariest food in your kitchen? Fish. The second scariest? Beef.

What food looks safest? Cheese.

Those are among the findings of a new Ipsos/McClatchy online poll about food safety.

The online survey of 1,011 adults, taken last Tuesday through Thursday, isn't a scientific random sample, doesn't statistically mirror the population and thus has no margin of error. Rather, the sample resembles a giant focus group to help see what people are thinking about a particular issue.

Nearly one out of four of those polled, 24 percent, listed fish and seafood when they were asked which food they're most concerned about when it comes to food safety.

The rest of the list:

  • Beef, which 23 percent rated the top food-safety concern.
  • Vegetables, 20 percent.
  • Chicken, 18 percent.
  • Fruits, 5 percent.
  • Pork, 5 percent.
  • Milk, 4 percent.
  • Cheese, 1 percent.

On the subject of food safety — which grabs headlines periodically when certain foods are recalled or found tainted — Americans give reasonably high marks to the institutions and industries that are entrusted with safeguarding what comes into their kitchens.

Only 11 percent gave U.S. food-safety efforts a grade of A, but 43 percent gave them a B and 34 percent scored them at C. Only 9 percent said D, and 3 percent F.

By a large margin, 79 percent to 21 percent, participants said imported food was the primary cause of worry rather than domestically produced food.

Looking at who's responsible for policing food, regardless of its source, most think that it's the responsibility of food-processing companies (81 percent) or federal government inspectors (79 percent.)

Others seen as bearing a "great deal" of responsibility:

  • Food-packaging companies, 73 percent.
  • Farmers and ranchers, 63 percent.
  • Consumers, 30 percent.

Most Americans, 57 percent, said food safety was about the same as it was six months ago. Another 28 percent think it's worse, and 15 percent think it's better.

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McClatchy Newspapers 2008

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