According to a recent poll of likely voters, about 9 in 10 support stronger food safety laws. The poll, conducted by a bipartisan team commissioned by the Pew Charitable Trusts, found widespread concern for the safety of the food supply.
The poll results showed that 64 percent of likely voters believe that imported foods are often or sometimes unsafe, a significant jump from last year’s 53 percent.
In all, 58 percent of those polled expressed worry about bacterial contamination in food, with approximately one-third indicating they worry “a great deal.”
The results signify that voters remain concerned about the safety of the food supply after a string of high-profile outbreaks from peanut butter to spinach to cookie dough.
According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 76 million people are food poisoned annually, 325,000 of those are hospitalized, and 5,000 lose their lives. One in four polled indicated that they had been personally affected by food poisoning.
“For too long the Food and Drug Administration, which is responsible for the safety of over 80 percent of the foods we eat, has not had the adequate resources or power to protect Americans from dangers in the food supply,” said Eric Olson, director of Food and Consumer Product Safety for the Pew Health Group. “This poll reflects a strong belief among most Americans that a healthy, nutritious diet is important, and they want to have confidence that their food is safe.”
“Voters continue to be worried about this issue,” added Olson, before an audience of food safety advocates at the National Food Policy Conference in Washington, DC last week. Pew released the poll results at the conference, which was largely focused on the pending food safety legislation before Congress.
“We found very broad public support for the provisions in the bill,” said Olson, referring to the food safety legislation currently working its way through the Senate. Olson also added that the chamber had “no excuse” to not act following the House food safety bill that overwhelmingly passed in July.
Pew found that 83 percent of likely voters believed the federal government should be responsible for keeping the food supply safe.
The poll will likely be an important tool for those lobbying for stronger food safety legislation, as they continue to push for Senate action this fall even as much attention and energy is focused on health care reform.