Seven in 10 Americans are concerned about the presence of chemical products in food, according to a survey.

The poll by Mérieux NutriSciences and bioMérieux found 70 percent of respondents were troubled about this topic that covers pesticides, antibiotics and additives. Two thirds were concerned about bacteria such as Salmonella and Listeria in food and 61 percent were worried about food fraud.

Viruses in food were the main concern for 59 percent of people, the use of new technology such as GMOs and nanotechnology worried 58 percent and traces of allergens or intolerance provoking substances in food was mentioned by 55 percent of respondents.

The Odoxa survey was conducted between Sept. 30 and Oct. 9 this year with a representative sample of 1,000 people in the United States aged 18 and over.

Steps for healthier and safer food
In the United States, 85 percent of people said they have confidence in the food they eat and three quarters said they are well informed about this subject. However, nearly 70 percent were more worried than before the coronavirus pandemic about the safety of the food they eat.

To get healthier and safer food, 78 percent said they would accept new packaging, 69 percent would go shopping more often to reduce the need for preservatives, 64 percent would buy food with an unusual appearance such as fruits and vegetables of irregular shapes, and 52 percent would pay more for food.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, 87 percent of the Americans asked said they bought their food in supermarkets often or from time to time, 68 percent at a butchers or greengrocers store, 48 percent at the market, 46 percent online, and 39 percent at the producer.

The poll, released on World Food Day, also asked the opinions of about 1,000 people in France, China and India.

Views from France, China and India
French respondents had the lowest levels of trust in food at 69 percent. This figure was 90 percent in India and 96 percent in China. Half of people in France also felt poorly informed about food safety.

In total, 86 percent of Indian consumers were more worried than before COVID-19 about the safety of food, compared to 70 percent in China and 66 percent in France.

The presence of chemical products in food was the top concern in all three countries. In France, the second biggest issue was food fraud and use of new technology was third. In China, viruses in food was second followed by bacteria in food. For Indians, food fraud was second and bacteria in food was third.

Yasha Mitrotti, executive vice president of industrial microbiology at bioMérieux, said the survey showed consumers want to be sure of what they are buying.

“Even if other criteria are considered depending on the country, the same dynamic is present: that of fear of the presence of bacteria and chemicals in food. This illustrates the importance of microbiological quality of food and drink for consumers in these countries,” Mitrotti said.

Almost three quarters of French people attached particular importance to the origin of products they consume and their traceability.

Accepting new packaging was the main change respondents in every country would consider for healthier and safer food. Seventy percent of Chinese consumers and 65 percent of those in India said they would pay more for food.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, people in France mostly bought their food in supermarkets, in stores such as butchers or at the market. For India, in stores was first, followed by at the market and in supermarkets. However in China, supermarkets was top followed by 80 percent saying they had often or from time to time bought food online.

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