The safety of the food supply is a leading concern for Canadians, according to a survey conducted more than a month after XL Foods recalled 1.5 million pounds of beef products sold in the country for potential E. coli contamination. The XL beef was eventually linked to 18 E. coli O157:H7 illnesses that occurred between September and October of 2012. Now, the results of a survey taken between November 20 and 22 of last year show that food safety is nearly on par with reducing the federal deficit as an issue of importance to Canadians. Out of the 1,000 people surveyed, 78 percent said reducing the deficit was important, while 75 percent said ensuring the nation’s food supply was important. Similarly, 41 percent have been following the issue of Canada’s food safety closely, a figure that’s only 3 percent lower than the 44 percent who have been following the federal deficit closely, according to the poll, commissioned by the Canadian Food Safety Alliance. E. coli O157:H7 is the biggest food safety concern for Canadians, coming in above both GMOs and pesticides, found the survey. A full 36 percent of the 1000 respondents said that concerns about E. coli infection have caused them to start eating less beef, and 6 percent said they have cut beef out of their diets altogether in order to avoid E. coli contamination. Participants also weighed in on methods of E. coli control. The most popular solution was improving the way in which beef is processed in the plant. A majority of respondents also favored the use of a vaccine for cattle that prevents shedding of E. coli bacteria. Canada is the only country in which use of the vaccine is currently fully licensed. The 10 percent of respondents who opposed the use of the vaccine generally took this position because they were concerned about human consumption of drug residues. Only 11 percent believe that the Canadian Food Inspection Authority, the country’s food safety regulatory body, is doing everything it can to ensure the safety of the food supply. Fifteen percent said CFIA is “not doing enough.” Nevertheless, 88 percent of people reported being somewhat confident in the overall safety of the food supply, compared to only 11 percent who were not confident or not at all confident; 1 percent didn’t know. The survey was conducted by Praxicus and published by the Canadian Food Safety Alliance in December of 2012.