Canadians confident in food safety – but few understand the process, survey reveals

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food safety, Food

Canadias confident in food safety: CFIA
Canadian confidence in the safety of their food supply is increasing, but there is limited understanding of the inspection process or food safety system, according to the findings of a new study from the Canadian Food Inspection Authority (CFIA).

The research, conducted by Corporate Research Associates, Inc. on behalf of the CFIA, involved 1,008 telephone interviews with Canadian adults nationwide, with the aim of probing their attitudes toward food safety in Canada, and the role of the CFIA. The researchers found a generally positive attitude among the majority of survey participants, and acceptance that multiple stakeholders share responsibility for ensuring food safety, including the government, the food industry, and farmers.

The report says that for about half (52%) of those surveyed, food recalls actually increase confidence in the safety of the food supply, because “it shows the system is working.”

“Indeed, this feeling of confidence has steadily increased over the past five iterations of this survey,”​ it says, specifying that while a small majority said food recalls led them to feel more confident in the food safety system, four in ten were concerned by recalls, as they show “products are able to get through the regulatory system to begin with.”

Overall, two-thirds of survey respondents said they were confident in the safety of the Canadian food supply.

While confidence in food safety in general has increased over the past five years, a majority of respondents (55%) said they would like more information on food safety, particularly information on food recalls.

Only 41% of respondents said they were familiar with the food safety system in Canada, and one-third said they were generally familiar with the food inspection system in Canada.

For those looking to communicate food safety information, the report’s authors advised using positive language.

“Given that consumers do recognize that the system is not perfect, they were most attracted by statements with a reassuring tone, even if they presented aspects of the system’s limitations. As such, using positive words and statements, as well as introducing what can be done rather than what is not possible were preferred approaches among consumers.”

The full report is available online here​.

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