Cargill’s Feed 4 Thought Grilling Survey of 1,000 adults in the United States found consumers “somewhat savvy about food issues” with “room for even more care in this area.”

The outdoor grilling season kicks off during Memorial Day in most parts of the country and Cargill’s Food 4 Thought Survey found food safety was “an influencing factor” for one in five grillers. Over one-third of respondents said they read labels on food packaging for food safety instructions.

A majority also said they plan to grill meat to proper temperatures, follow safe food handling procedures, and check the appearance of meat in the store.

More than 94 percent of the grillers say they trust the meat they purchase is safe for their outdoor cooking needs. More than three-quarters of the respondents said they think producers take enough steps to ensure meat safety.

Grillers in the survey said they believe animal health and diet have an impact on the safety of meat. The Cargill survey found 87 percent of backyard grillers think an animal’s diet can have a positive effect on meat safety. More than 90 percent believe it can have a positive impact on meat quality.

Over three-quarters of grillers believe strengthening an animal’s immune system has a positive effect on meat safety. And over three-quarters think food safety practices start on the farm with what the animals eat.

Three out of four consumers plan to grill or barbecue meat during the upcoming season. Steaks are the top grilling choice, followed by hamburgers, chicken and pork chops.

Most plan to grill out once or twice a week and, among the generations, both Millennial, and Gen-Xers now report grilling out more often than Baby Boomers.

Survey respondents said quality, price and taste are all higher priorities than food safety when they make decisions about purchasing and grilling meat. Food safety is more important to consumers than so-called “food values” including such considerations as grass-fed, antibiotic free, and organic and also nutritional concerns.

After steaks, there are some regional differences, according to the survey. Midwesterners are partial to hamburgers while people in the Northeast prefer chicken.

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