Safety of the Supermarket

April 8/Health Business Week -- Although the majority of Americans believe foods in supermarkets are safe, the percentage who feel this way has decreased over the last five years, according to The NPD Group. The latest NPD Food Safety Monitor, which has tracked food safety concerns and eating intentions in the U.S. every other week since 2001, indicates that in 2007 and 2008, 63% agreed with the statement that foods sold in supermarkets are safe, versus 68% who agreed with the statement in 2004. "Overall, I feel that foods sold in supermarkets are safe."

"I believe that consumers slipping confidence in the safety of supermarket food is less about food safety and more about supermarkets expanding foodservice operations and offering more prepared, ready-to-eat foods," says Harry Balzer, chief industry analyst and vice president at NPD, which conducts extensive food industry research. "More food handling issues and concerns come into play when foods are prepared for you. Consumers are now extending the concerns they have about the safety of foods served at restaurants to supermarkets."

According to the NPD Food Safety Monitor, the percentage of consumers who feel that foods served at restaurants are safe has remained, on average, between 48-49% since 2004.

"Consumers are more concerned about the safety of food served in restaurants than food available from supermarkets, about a 15 percentage point difference," says Balzer. However, feelings about food safety in restaurants have remained relatively unchanged whereas the number of consumers who feel confident in the safety of foods in supermarkets is declining.

In terms of food safety concerns, salmonella, E.Coli, trans fatty acids, mercury in fish/seafood, Mad Cow, high fructose corn syrup, artificial growth hormones in milk, genetically modified foods, foot and mouth disease, and meat/milk from cloned animals rank among Americans top food safety concerns, according to the most recent NPD Food Safety Monitor.

From the April 13, 2009, Prepared Foods E-dition