U.S. Consumer Confidence In Food Safety Declines, Demand For Unprocessed Foods Increases

Consumer confidence in the safety of foods and beverages sold in the U.S. has dropped over the past five years, according to Multi-sponsor Surveys' Study of Clean Food & Beverage Labels. In this survey conducted in May/June 2013 among a national sample of 2,100 adults, one in six express a "great deal" of confidence in food safety. By comparison, in 2008 approximately one in four adults expressed a "great deal" of confidence.

While the safety of imported foods is the most pressing concern, it is followed by concerns about exposure to pesticides on foods, exposure to food-borne pathogens (e-coli, salmonella, etc.) and use of antibiotics or growth hormones in livestock.

Efforts to consume fresh, unprocessed foods have increased over the same time span that confidence in food safety declined. Since 2008 the percentage of adults who strongly agree they "make a strong effort to consume fresh foods instead of processed foods" increased from 24 to 32 percent. Many are trying to eat both the cleanest and safest foods they can find.

Other findings from the study include:

  • More than 70 percent of adults have purchased foods or beverages with clean label package claims in the past year.
  • The most popular clean labels include: all natural ingredients, no artificial ingredients, no artificial preservatives, no high fructose corn syrup, organic and no artificial colors.
  • Millennials are the age group most likely to turn to organic foods.

Karen Bundy, vice president at Multi-sponsor Surveys said in a prepared statement, "Our recent clean label study found Millennials more attracted to clean labels such as 'all natural,' 'organic,' 'gluten-free,' free-range' and 'hormone-free,' than baby boomers or older adults who are more focused on sugar, sodium and whole grains."

Read more about the survey findings here.

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