Survey shows recent rise in consumer food safety concerns
Consumers express confidence in beef industry efforts
According to the results of a national survey released March 5, consumers are confident in the safety of their ground beef, steaks and roasts despite a rise in their overall concern about food safety in recent months. More than eight in 10 of those respondents agreed that the entire beef industry is working together to ensure safe and wholesome food. The survey results were released in conjunction with the sixth annual Beef Industry Safety Summit, held this week in San Diego.
More than two-thirds of consumers in this survey say they believe the number of food recalls and foodborne illnesses is on the rise, especially on the heels of recall news related to peanut products. Just 49 percent of consumers answered in the same way in November 2008. The national survey of 1,023 Americans had a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent and was funded by The Beef Checkoff.
"This survey confirms food safety is on consumers' minds, and we want them to know it's on our mind as well," said James O. Reagan, Ph.D., chairman of the Beef Industry Food Safety Council and senior vice president of research, education and innovation for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. "That's why leaders from all segments of beef production gather every year at the Beef Industry Safety Summit to share the latest research, improve safety best practices and set a course for the future."
When asked specifically about the beef industry's efforts to improve beef safety, 81 percent agreed that the entire beef industry--from farmers and ranchers to processors and retailers--is working together to provide consumers with safe, wholesome food. 78 percent of consumers also agreed that safeguards developed by beef industry scientists have made ground beef safer than ever.
"We're pleased that consumers recognize the work the industry is doing to protect food safety," said Reagan. "At the first Summit, we pledged to tackle the challenge of eliminating foodborne pathogens from the beef supply, and we remain committed to that promise."
More than 160 representatives from every sector of the beef industry from farm to fork are attending this year's Summit. The Summit, first held in 2003, has emerged as the most important meeting of the year for collaboratively discussing solutions to existing and emerging beef safety issues.
The Beef Industry Food Safety Council, founded more than a decade ago, brings together representatives from all segments of the beef industry to develop industry-wide, science-based strategies to ensure beef safety and win the battle against E. coli.
The Beef Checkoff Program was established as part of the 1985 farm bill. The checkoff assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. States retain up to 50 cents on the dollar and forward the other 50 cents per head to the Cattlemen's Beef Promotion and Research Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval.