Manufacturers have changed their practices to respond to food safety concerns, as US consumers claim to have changed their shopping habits, according to a new survey from Michigan State University.
The survey, sponsored by certification body DNV and entitled "Food Safety Certification: A Study of Food Safety in the U.S. Supply Chain", polled 400 consumers and 73 food companies to find out about perceptions of food safety scares and whether rising concern was enough to spur consumers and companies to change.
Director of the Product Center at MSU Dr. Chris Peterson said: “Nearly half of the consumers we surveyed expressed a change in shopping patterns because of food safety.”
A rash of foodborne illness outbreaks and food product recalls over the past few years has led to increasing suspicion among the American public about the safety of the food supply, particularly regarding foreign-sourced food and domestic meat products, the survey found.
In response, companies said they had focused on food safety, with a majority saying they had changed their business practices in the past five years in reaction to food safety concerns. Traceability was their top concern, according to poll results.
Dr. Peterson said: “We are not surprised that industry professionals place more emphasis on traceability, while consumers want to see certification on product labels. These are the market-based food safety processes. Consumers still see mandatory inspection by government as the most credible signal of food safety, with certification and traceability coming in a close second and third."
In addition, the majority of consumer respondents said they would be willing to pay up to 30 percent more for products with a safety certification label.
Director of food safety solutions for DNV Kathy Wybourn said: "Common sense tells us that people expect safe food, but we wanted to know more about how stakeholders, including consumers, react to different signals of quality and safety. That's crucial if we, as an industry, are going to create unified solutions, and improve the delivery of safer products to the stores and onto the tables of consumers."