Food-borne Illness Poses Consumer Concern

February 25, 2010

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Analytics, Automated & MarTech | CPG & FMCG | Food & Restaurants | Pharma & Healthcare | Retail & E-Commerce

Four in ten (42%) Americans indicate they have become sick or ill during the past two years from what they attribute at least in part to something they ate, according to a new Harris Poll from Harris Interactive.

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Consumers Identify, Eliminate Sick Foods
Sixty-nine percent of those who attribute an illness to a food item think they know what made them sick. As a result, 26% of those who indicate they became sick from something they ate have eliminated that food from their diet entirely. Moreover, another 15% indicate that they advised family, friends and colleagues not to eat that food item, increasing the impact of their individual experience. Another 19% continue to eat the food item in question, and 10% have not eaten it again yet but plan to in the future.

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Fresh Foods Cause Most Concern
Among four types of foods: fresh, canned, frozen and other packaged foods, 21% of adults are either extremely or very concerned that fresh foods are safe to eat, followed by canned foods (15%), other packaged foods such as boxes, jars, bags, etc. (14%) and frozen foods (13%).

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Including those who are at least somewhat concerned, at least three quarters to one half of Americans are concerned to some extent that these foods are safe to eat. Fresh foods cause at least some concern among 73% of consumers, followed by other packaged foods such as boxes, jars, bags, etc. (64%), canned foods (59%), and frozen foods (53%).

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Those who are at least somewhat concerned that fresh foods are safe to eat are most concerned about fresh meats (31%), fresh poultry (23%), fresh fish (20%), vegetables (16%) and fruit (8%).

US Eating Habits Get Healthier

In conjunction with heightened awareness of food-borne illness, Americans are eating healthier, according to the the new Nielsen Healthy Eating Index. The Nielsen Healthy Eating Index scored 402 in 2009, a 33.4% increase from 389 in 2008. Factors such as increased popularity of foods making claims regarding their fat, calories, antioxidants, and natural ingredients led to the rise in the Index.

About the Survey: This Harris Poll was conducted online within the US January 13-15, 2010 among 2,010 adults aged 18 and over. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

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