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Americans Heeding Food Safety Issues

Poll Shows Most U.S. Adults Have Avoided Buying Certain Foods Because of Food Recalls or Food Safety
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Aug. 3, 2007 -- Recent food safety advisories and food recalls are on the minds of many U.S. adults, according to a new Gallup poll.

The poll of 1,001 U.S. adults was conducted from July 12-15. That's right before Castleberry's Food Company recalled some of its canned goods because of possible botulism contamination.

In the poll, participants were asked about actions they had taken in the past year as a direct result of a government food safety advisory or a product recall.

Specifically, they were asked if they had avoided buying certain brands or types of food, thrown out food or returned food to the store, or worried that they had eaten something that may have been contaminated.

They could say "yes" to more than one of those questions. For instance, if someone had worried, thrown out food, and avoided certain brands, they would have answered "yes" to all three questions.

Food Safety Reactions

Overall, 71% of poll participants reported taking at least one of those actions as a direct response to food safety issues in the past year.

Most participants -- 62% -- indicated that they had avoided buying certain brands or types of food. Fewer participants -- 40% -- reported throwing out or returning food to the store. More than one in four -- 26% -- said they had worried that they had eaten something contaminated.

In the poll, people rated how much confidence they had in the federal government to ensure the safety of the U.S. food supply. They could choose one of several responses, ranging from "a great deal" of confidence to "none at all."

Most participants -- 53% -- indicated that they had "a fair amount of confidence" in the government's ability to ensure U.S. food safety. Eighteen percent expressed "a great deal" of confidence.

At the other end of the spectrum, 21% reported having "not much" confidence and 8% reported having no confidence at all in the government's ability to ensure U.S. food safety.

The 71% who expressed a "great deal" or "fair" amount of confidence is markedly lower than the 76% who voiced those views in Gallup's poll last year and down from the high point of 85% in Gallup's 2004 poll.

But that doesn't mean that people are fretting as they stroll through the supermarket.

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