Amid all the partisan bickering in the United States, food safety seems to be one thing that Democrat and Republican voters can agree on, according to a new poll. When it comes to food policy issues more generally, however, there’s a sharp divide between the two parties.
The “Food Temperance in America” survey, released last week by FoodMinds, a food-focused communications firm, found that Democrats are significantly more concerned about food issues. Around 75 percent of Democrats think more time should be spent on food policy during the presidential debates and in more general policy discussions. Only 39 percent of Republicans agreed — a 36 point gap.
There were also significant, though less staggering, gaps between how partisan voters feel about hunger, nutritional education, school food and agricultural reform. The spread is 22 to 23 points on these issues:
Aside from some significant agreement on the importance of food safety and stabilizing food prices, “It’s clear political ideology determines the way Americans think about government intervention when it comes to food-related policies,” said Susan Pitman, a registered dietician and FoodMinds partner, who unveiled the survey results last week at the National Food Policy Conference in Washington, DC.
Nearly all voters in both parties said food safety is either very important or important to them — 80 percent of Democrats and 77 percent of Republicans said food safety was very important, another 19 and 20 percent, respectively, said the issue was important.
“Bottom line is — food safety is an area of common ground in food policy issues, regardless of party affiliation,” said Pittman.
The survey results did not reveal voter opinions on government intervention on food safety issues, but found a fairly wide gap between Democrats and Republicans on whether Uncle Sam should make companies label genetically engineered foods (54 to 38 percent strongly favor, respectively), define the term “natural” (45 to 28), sponsor nutrition education that identifies “bad foods” (37 to 18), or tax sugary beverages (27 to 14).
Among a sub group of consumers screened as “opinion leaders,” Food Minds found that 88 percent trust friends and family more than the government (73 percent) for reliable and useful information about health and nutrition.
This is the first year Food Minds polled on the importance of specific food policy issues, so it’s not possible to compare data year over year. The survey was conducted April 23, 2012. The sample of 1,000 adults was balanced in age, gender, and region in the United States. The sub sample of opinion leaders included 383 adults. The survey’s margin of error is plus or minus 4 percent for the opinion leaders, and plus or minus 3 percent for the registered voters.
Table source: Food Minds.