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Consumer Reports Poll: Two-Thirds of Americans Want the FDA to Inspect Domestic and Foreign Food Supply Once a Month
(MarketWatch – PRNewswire via I.E. Canada Daily News)
Amid continuing questions as to the safety of both imported and domestically produced food, a new national food safety and labeling poll conducted by Consumer Reports National Research Center reveals that, by a huge margin, consumers are concerned about food safety, and they want the government to inspect the food supply more frequently and to publicly disclose where food safety problems arise. A copy of the poll can be found at http://www.GreenerChoices.org/foodpoll2008.
"The Consumer Reports poll shows that Americans overwhelmingly expect the government to do much more to protect the public from contaminated food," said Urvashi Rangan, Ph.D., Senior Scientist and Policy Analyst at Consumers Union. "Consumers want to know that the food they buy meets the standards they expect – our poll shows that right now, that is not the case. Whether that means that 'organic' fish eat 100% organic feed without contamination, or that people know which meat and dairy products come from cloned or genetically engineered animals – consumers want the government to ensure safety, quality and meaning in the food marketplace. The American public wants to know more about their food, where it comes from, how safe it is, and will vote with their dollars to support highly meaningful labels."
While 73% polled currently regard the overall food supply as safe, nearly half (48%) said their confidence in the safety of the nation's food supply has decreased. A bare majority of Americans feel the government is doing all it can to ensure food safety (54%). Eighty-three percent of respondents are concerned with harmful bacteria or chemicals in food and 81% are concerned with the safety of imported food.
At present, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspects domestic food production facilities once every 5 to 10 years, and foreign facilities even less frequently. And while U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) must inspect meat plants daily, the FDA has no such requirement for other food processing plants. The American public, however, expects the FDA to conduct hands-on reviews of food-processing plants far more often. In fact, two-thirds of respondents said the FDA should inspect domestic and foreign food-processing facilities at least once a month.
More than 8 in 10 consumers strongly agree that when food safety problems arise, the FDA should disclose to the public the location of retailers who sold the potentially harmful food, including fish, produce, and processed foods, as the USDA is currently required to do for meat. Over 80% of consumers also want the government to be able to require a recall, quickly and accurately trace food from production to sale, and strongly agree that the USDA should disclose to the public information about schools, healthcare facilities, and other public and private institutions that receive recalled meat.
Mandatory country of origin labeling (also known as "COOL") for meats, fish, produce and peanuts was finally implemented on September 30, 2008, but there are large loopholes that the majority of consumers want closed. Ninety-four percent of Americans want specialty meat and fish stores to label their products by country of origin. Meat and poultry sold in butcher shops and fish sold in fish markets – some 11% of all meat and fish – are currently exempt from country of origin labeling. Ninety-five percent of consumers polled believe that processed or packaged food should be labeled by their country of origin and that country of origin labeling for products should always be available at point of purchase. Processed (i.e., roasted, salted, smoked) and mixed ingredient foods are currently exempt. CU has developed an online guide to the new rules http://www.consumersunion.org/pdf/CU-Cool-Tool.pdf. ...