by Marion Nestle
Jun 29 2009

Gosh. Consumers don’t trust the food supply

I didn’t know that IBM was in the survey business but apparently it has just asked people what they think about the safety of the food supply.  Fewer than 20% of the 1,000 people who responded said (what a surpise) that they trusted food companies to make safe and healthful foods.

More than 60% said they were worried about food safety and – this one really does surprise me – 83% could name a food that was recalled in the past two years, mostly peanut butter.

IBM’s conclusion?  “These findings underscore how the rise in recalls and contamination has significantly eroded consumer confidence in food and product safety, as well as with the companies that manufacture and distribute these products.”   No kidding.

Now if Congress would only pay attention and do the right thing.

  • Jess

    (Feel free to delete this once you fix the error – surely that second sentence should read:

    “Fewer than 20% of the 1,000 people who responded said (what a surp*R*ise) that they [do not] trust food companies to make safe and healthful foods.”

    If fewer than 20% are saying that they don’t trust the companies, then that’s not very impressive, is it? Surely it’s the opposite? I’m hoping!

    But either way, that ‘surprise’ needs a second R. 😛 Cheers! Love the blog!)

  • Janet Camp

    I think it’s important (and confuses the issue) that the question ask about “safe AND HEALTHFUL” foods. I, personally, don’t think that hardly any “manufactured” foods are HEALTHY even if they are “safe”, so I would answer “no” and my answer could be interpreted to mean that I don’t think food is safe, which in general, I think that it is (although I’m all for tougher enforcement and inspection).

    Surveys can be seriously compromised by the phrasing of the questions, which is why I take them with a grain of salt. Besides, the public is so ill-informed in general, that whatever they “think” about such things probably has little to do with the truth one way or the other! A good portion of the country don’t “believe” in global warming or evolution. According to a recent post here, a huge amount of people don’t even know that temperature is related to food safety. Why blame industry for all this ignorance?

  • An interesting follow-up question for those 60%: “How are you, personally, changing the way you shop in light of these concerns?” Grassfed and finished meats? Farmer’s market shopping? Growing your own? Yeah, thought not.

  • Cindy

    Peggy, We eat local grass fed and finished beef, pork, lamb, goat, bison, and elk. Local free range chickens. Sustainably fished Pacific Northwest halibut and salmon (ordered online). It’s been years since we’ve eaten meat or fish from a supermarket.

  • Jon

    I don’t consider any manufactured food safe anymore, really. I go local whenever possible; obviously, I can’t get everything local.