Fewer Americans today are worried about food safety than in 2010 according to a poll conducted by National Public Radio (NPR) and Thomson Reuters. The poll found 57 percent of respondents are concerned or very concerned about the safety of our food, compared with 61 percent polled in 2010.  

When the poll was first completed in summer 2010, the E.coli contamination of lettuce and the safety of our seafood following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill were fresh on people’s minds.  Events filtering through the minds of respondents for the 2011 poll included illnesses tied to organic sprouts in Europe and a massive ground turkey recall.

So what changed between 2010 and 2011?  

Fewer respondents were concerned about food safety as were in 2010, despite a similar proportion of 2011 poll-takers reporting experiences with food-related sicknesses as did in 2010. However, twenty-two percent of those who reported getting sick considered it serious, compared to 12 percent in 2010.

Nearly 11 percent of respondents said that they were not concerned with food safety at all, compared to 6.6% last year.  

Meat led the list of foods that worry people the most. Forty-four percent said that of all the food, meat posed the greatest risk to food safety, compared to 51 percent last year. Respondents were also concerned with fresh produce (30%), seafood (20%) and dairy products (5.5%).

Socio-economics appear to play a role in food safety concerns: 53% of respondents who earn less than $25,000 per year were very concerned with the safety of their food. This far outweighs the level of concern among respondents with higher income. Similarly, respondents with a high school level education or less reported a greater concern for food safety (46 percent) than those with at least a college degree saw a drop in food safety worries (33 percent).

Read the poll results (PDF)…

Source: Scott Hensley, NPR blog