Perception is reality and a new survey from food and marketing agency Charleston Orwig found that more than a quarter of consumers said they do not trust the vigilance of the food industry’s safety efforts.

In a blog post called “Food Safety in America - Time to Bolster Consumer Confidence,” the agency reported a survey of 500 consumers found:

  • When asked if they trusted the food industry for safe food, 48% said they do trust the food industry and 27% said they did not;
  • More than 77% of consumers say that cooking a meal in their own kitchens is the best way to ensure it is safe to eat; 
  • Restaurants were deemed the second safest, with more than 59% of consumers considering this to be a reliable option;
  • Just 29% of respondents consider food trucks or public vendors safe and almost 42% considering this option potentially unsafe; 
  • Asked to compare food safety now versus a decade ago, about 35% of consumer said food is safer and 32% said it was less safe;
  • The survey said 59% of consumers said they assume food from individual farmers, food manufacturers or restaurants is safe if they have not heard about a specific problem;
  • The survey said that having had a food-borne illness did not make a person think food was less safe than participants overall; 
  • 49% of consumers said grains, beans and pasta are the safest foods, followed by fresh fruits and vegetables at 42%;
  • Leafy greens and lettuce were tied with processed food as the next category of highest concern with 45% of consumers rating them risky, according to the survey; and
  • 55% say meat and poultry are the riskiest to eat; the blog post speculated the divide could be tied to people’s overall perception of what makes up a healthy diet.

TK: As the Charleston Orwig blog post concludes, the industry needs to do a better job of communicating their food safety efforts to consumers.  An unanswered question in this discussion is how consumer doubts about food safety reduce consumption.

On a related note, check out Farm Journal’s effort to build “Trust in Food” at this link.