Public Trust in Food Safety Hits Highest Level in Seven Years

Nearly nine out of 10 consumers are “completely” or “somewhat” confident that the food they buy in the supermarket is safe, according to the latest U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends Survey from U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends Survey from the Food Marketing Institute. That’s the highest level in seven years, up 22% since confidence in grocery store food safety hit a low of 66% in 2007.

More than 90% of shoppers agree “strongly” or “somewhat” with the statement that they trust their grocery stores to ensure the food they eat is safe, and more than half of shoppers agree strongly. A red flag for manufacturers: More than half point to food processing and manufacturing plants as the source of the majority of food safety breaches.

Scott Hurd, DVM, PhD, associate professor at Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in Ames and former Deputy Undersecretary for Food Safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, attributes much of the change in consumer attitude to the multi-year effort–successful at the beginning of this year–to pass the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.

“Since the bill was passed, we haven’t had any really big, ugly, messy outbreaks,” he said. “The situation with Salmonella and eggs last summer was probably the last one, and that went away pretty fast.”

Dr. Hurd said confidence may increase a bit more, but not by much. “You can never have 100%,” he said. “And I’m afraid some big outbreak will come along and it will take a hit again.”

According to Dr. Hurd, U.S. food safety is in good shape overall. “We have had a few problems, mostly on the FDA side, and I think the new law will do a great deal to improve those,” he said.

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