Shoppers more confident in safety of food

Consumer confidence in food safety is at its highest point in seven years, with 88 percent of shoppers "completely" or "somewhat" confident in the safety of food at the supermarket, according to the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends report.

 More than 90 percent of shoppers agree "strongly" or "somewhat" with the statement that they trust their grocery stores to ensure the food they eat is safe and more than half strongly agree. When asked where they believe the food safety breaches occur, more than half of shoppers named food processing and manufacturing plants. However, when asked who is responsible for ensuring food safety, more than half (58 percent) say they are responsible, up 7 points from 2010, followed by manufacturers and processors at 35 percent, and supermarkets and government agencies at 28 percent each.


Consumers continue to be most comfortable with food grown in the U.S. versus imported products:  97 percent are either "very" or "somewhat" comfortable with U.S. grown food.

The survey also found that men are more comfortable with imported foods compared to women; 76 percent of men are comfortable with food imported from Latin and South America versus 58 percent of women. And younger shoppers are significantly more comfortable with imported foods compared to shoppers aged 65 or older. The higher level of consumer trust in supermarkets to sell safe food resulted in fewer respondents who claim they stopped purchasing certain food items because of food safety concerns. Only 12 percent of shoppers say they no longer purchase an item for those reasons.

While 2011 has not had many high-profile food recalls, consumer confidence in food safety is greatly affected by recall activity. Today's technology is making it easier for food manufacturers and retailers to communicate food recall announcements quickly to a broad audience.

"Supermarkets have built consumer trust by taking extensive measures to safeguard food sold in grocery stores," said FMI President and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin. "By working closely with suppliers to ensure safety standards are met, by training staff on best practices for safe food handling and educating consumers about food safety, retailers are a critical link in the safety of the food supply."