The Food Safety Enhancement Act was passed by the House in July, and is due for consideration in the Senate when it reconvenes after its summer recess. It includes proposals to give the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) more authority in the way it conducts plant inspections, as well as the power to mandate recalls. The bill was one of several proposed pieces of legislation that were developed in the wake of consumer and industry pressure for better food safety measures, after the salmonella scandal centered on peanut products in early 2009.
The NPD Group has been conducting bi-weekly surveys since November 2007, following a number of large-scale food recalls that year, including E. coli in ground beef and salmonella in pot pies.
The research organization said that proportions of those who are or are not worried about food safety have stayed more or less the same over the past two years, although there have been spikes of concern around high profile food recalls and multi-state foodborne illness outbreaks.
On average, only 11 to 13 percent of those surveyed said they were not at all concerned about food safety.
A similar survey has been developed by researchers at the University of Minnesota, which also found that consumer confidence in the safety of the US food supply dropped sharply in the wake of the salmonella outbreak in peanut products, with fewer than one in five of those surveyed in February saying that they felt the supply was safer than a year earlier.
The Minnesota researchers said that following the outbreak, confidence in American food was the lowest it had been since the study began in May 2008.