February 24, 2009
U.S. food confidence drops
A University of Minnesota study finds confidence in food safety dropped about 20 percentage points in wake of the recent peanut product contamination.
After January's national salmonella outbreak of peanut products 22.5 percent of consumers in the study -- conducted jointly with the Louisiana State University AgCenter -- said they were confident the U.S. food supply is safer than a year ago. Eight people died and more than 500 have become ill in the most recent outbreak, which may have originated in a Georgia peanut plant and spread through peanut-butter products sold nationwide.
The drop in food confidence mirrors a similar drop last June, when a salmonella outbreak traced to jalapeno peppers sickened nearly 1,500 people.
The study involves continuously tracking consumer confidence in food supply safety via a weekly online survey of about 175 consumers from across the nation. The consumers are selected each week by a national market research company.
This indicator is unique because of its continuous tracking feature, Jean Kinsey, director of the Food Industry Center at the University of Minnesota, said in a statement.
The irony of this is -- less than 1 percent of the peanut butter consumed in the United States was involved in the contamination -- but some people will not eat anything with peanuts, Kinsey told United Press International.