Fewer Americans are worried about food safety now compared to a year ago, according to the latest NPR-Thomson Reuters Health Poll. Still, about 57 percent of Americans say they’re concerned or very concerned about the safety of food now, compared with 61 percent last summer.
Meat remains the food Americans worry about most with 44 percent of those surveyed saying it poses the greatest risk. The good news is that’s a 7 percent drop from last year.
The NPR-Thomson Reuters Health Poll represents responses from 3,017 survey participants interviewed from July 1-13, 2011. The margin of error is 1.8 percent. The survey repeated questions from 2010, asking respondents about the safety of the country’s food supply.
Among respondents to the survey, 10.7 percent say they are not at all concerned about the safety of their food, up from 6.6 percent in 2010. But while fewer people say they are concerned about food safety, the number of people who said they had become sick from something they ate in the last three months (11.2 percent) was higher than last year (10.5 percent).
NPR-Thomson Reuters also found the severity of food illness increased from 2010. Last year 12.1 percent of respondents said they became seriously ill due to something they ate. That number climbed to 21.5 percent in 2011.
After meat, the foods that concern Americans most are: fresh produce (30.2 percent); seafood (20.1 percent); and dairy products (5.5 percent).
Scio-economics appear to play a role in food safety concerns as 53 percent of respondents who earn less than $25,000 per year were very concerned with the safety of their food. That’s much higher than other income groups. Of those earning more than $100,000 per year 31.5 percent were very concerned about their food. The total for all income groups was 38.5 percent who were very concerned about their food.
Older Americans seem less concerned about the safety of their food. Among those 65 years and older, 32 percent said they were very concerned about the safety of their food. That compares with 39.6 percent of those under 35, and 40.5 percent of those 35 to 65 years of age.
Read the complete survey results here.