The continuous drum beat of multistate foodborne illness outbreaks has not done much to shake consumer confidence in the U.S. food supply, according to a new study released this week. The NPD Group, a market research firm,  reports that 60 percent of U.S. consumers are only somewhat or slightly concerned about the safety of the food supply. A quarter of people report being extremely or very concerned and 15 percent said they were not concerned at all. The survey, known as the NPD Group Food Safety Monitor, contacts 500 adults on a biweekly basis and asks about a variety of food safety issues, including Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria, mad cow disease and mercury in fish. Responses to one simple question: “How concerned are you about the safety of the U.S. food supply?” have remained relatively the same since 2010, according to NPD. So why aren’t headlines about illnesses and deaths linked to cantaloupe, peanut butter, tuna, cheese and mangoes (just to name some of the outbreaks of the last six months) causing more worry? Well, the survey results show that these outbreaks do cause spikes in concern, usually regarding a specific food product, but then as the news subsides the concern levels off. The percentage of adults who reported being concerned about Listeria, for example, more than doubled during the deadly Colorado cantaloupe outbreak in late Summer 2011, but by the end of the year that worry leveled off. “The impact of a food recall on consumer attitudes and perceptions often depends on the amount of news coverage received, or the severity of the situation in terms of numbers sickened or dead as a result,” says Darren Seifer,  NPD food and beverage industry analyst. “Recalls, unfortunately, have become more commonplace, but consumers are creatures of habit. It takes a lot for us to change what we eat.”

  • kathy

    If the survey would have included Myself and those I am in contact with They would find another 60 + folks that are “people reported being extremely or very concerned”…“The impact of a food recall on consumer attitudes and perceptions often
    depends on the amount of news coverage received, or the severity of the
    situation in terms of numbers sickened or dead as a result,” This is very true, Since Subscribing to FSN, I have become much more aware of recalls that I otherwise most likely would not have heard about, including ones that effect My immediate region and foods that I purchase. I have not made Mango chutney once this year due to the huge recall of Mangoes ..I have lost my confidence in a fair number of products/producers and will likely avoid those products for some time to come,  beef is off my shopping list in any form..As I lived in the bubble of belief that beef offered in this country was sourced from USA raised cattle, only to find much of our beef is imported from Canada which just exported about 3 million lbs of Ecoli tainted beef, then there’s the new “Beyond the Border” Program that just launched Sept. 12th that eliminates border Inspections of products imported/exported between USA/Canada for “trusted producers” I wonder was XL Foods a participant in this program??

  • Crossrdfarm

    Most people are not aware of food safety issues. Only half the people i know only have a clue if it runs on national news. I read things all tbe time and when i mention it people are shocked. How do you know that? The media is ridiculous about what they consider news worthy.

  • Terri

    Good to hear 75% of people recognize our food is basically safe — it is not poison as the remaining 25% have been deluded into believing. The author of this article sounds so disappointed all people haven’t been deluded. I am disappointed so many people have fallen under the spell of the lunatic fringe where unfounded fear rules their lives.

    What’s with all the irrational food fear? Eating is safer than flying, safer than driving. Eating is one of the few pleasures left to us…at least until the food police perfect the nanny state.

    • Em

      Dismissing those who want our food to be safer is foolhardy. Don’t you know that 3,000 Americans die every year from food poisoning? Is that okay with you? Or would you rather just ignore that fact and go blithely on your way? The fact that you are not in the hospital with food poisoning is partly due to luck and mostly due to the “food police” you disparage.