Survey Says Consumers Worried about Food Safety

A recent Harris poll shows an American public especially concerned with food health in the wake of this year's E. coli outbreak.

A Harris poll released Nov. 17 brings to light the food safety concerns of U.S. consumers in the wake of this year's E. coli outbreak. According to the poll, 52% of adults are extremely or very concerned about the safety of food purchased at the grocery store, 41% are concerned about the healthiness of ingredients in their food, and 41% are concerned about the origin of the fresh produce they consume.

The E. coli outbreak in spinach earlier this year appears to have affected the results of this survey. 96% of respondents said they were at least somewhat familiar with the outbreak, although only 83% could identify "Prepackaged spinach sold in a bag or plastic box" as a grocery store food associated with the outbreak.

Of those who identified prepackaged or fresh spinach sold loose as being associated with the E. coli outbreak, 42% and 39%, respectively, have stopped eating it. 41% of those who believed fresh or prepackaged lettuce was associated with the outbreak have stopped eating it.

The survey was conducted shortly after the E. coli outbreak from mid-September to early October this year.

"Although the E. coli outbreak was due only to affected spinach, many consumers took a 'better safe than sorry' attitude and stopped eating lettuce as well. We also have seen this concern translate itself into increased interest in organic and locally grown foods," says Parker Hurlburt, Vice President of Harris Interactive's Consumer Packaged Goods Research Practice.

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