September 8, 2009

Poll: Many say imported food may be unsafe

Sixty-four percent of U.S. adults say they believe imported foods are often or sometimes unsafe, a survey indicates.

The survey -- commissioned by the Pew Health Group, of The Pew Charitable Trusts, and conducted by Hart Research and Public Opinion Strategies -- found that overall, 58 percent of voters are worried about bacterial contamination of the food supply, with about one-third of those saying they worry a great deal.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is equipped to inspect less than 1 percent of the imported products it regulates, agency data indicate.

Eighty-three percent of likely voters say the federal government should be responsible for ensuring that food is safe to eat, and 89 percent support the federal government enacting new measures to protect people from getting sick from eating contaminated food.

In addition, 91 percent of those polled favor annual or semi-annual government inspections of facilities that process food at high risk of contamination. Government data show such facilities are inspected once a decade on average, say FDA statistics and a review by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

The nationwide survey, conducted June 29-July 3, polled 1,005 likely voters. The survey has a margin of error of plus/minus 3.1 percentage points.