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UF Survey: Floridians Rank Food Safety Top Concern After Economy, Health Care

Food safety was topped only by the economy and health care in a recent survey of 510 Floridians by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

The UF/IFAS Center for Public Interest Education (PIE) found that food safety ranked third out of 15 identified issues of concern. Genetically modified food was ranked separately and came in at 14.

Florida residents are “really concerned about food safety,” said PIE’s Joy Rumble. ‘That was a really important issue for them.”

Tracy Irani, director of the Center for PIE, indicated that food safety plays a big role in the lives of the state’s residents.

“Food is personally relevant to folks, “she said. “It’s one of those things we care about and have more emotion and concern about than other kinds of issues in agriculture and natural resources.”

The Florida survey did find consumers are not exactly clear about food safety risks. More identified growth hormones, additives and preservatives as health risks than bacteria, which can fairly quickly cause major foodborne diseases.

More also thought fresh produce is safer than canned produce, when in reality it is just the opposite. Floridians were high on local, organic and all-natural foods and concerned about antibiotic and pesticide residues.

And, while they are moderately worried about GMO food, a majority indicated they would support genetic engineering to save Florida’s $9-billion citrus crop from greening disease.

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