The vast majority of Americans have confidence in the safety of the U.S. food supply, according to a new survey by the International Food Information Council (IFIC).  The 2012 Food & Health Survey found that 78 percent of those surveyed were either “somewhat confident” or “very confident” in the safety of the domestic food supply.  Last year that number was closer to 50 percent.

Though most Americans have thought about the safety of food and beverages over the past year–85 percent reported giving “a little” or “a lot” of thought–most Americans think the chances are low they will themselves come down with foodborne illness.  Fifty-seven percent of consumers said they “strongly” or “somewhat” agree that the chances they will get a serious foodborne illness are extremely low.  Some consumers disagree–27 percent “somewhat disagree” and 9 percent “strongly disagree.”

Imported foods are “less safer than foods produced and grown in the USA,” according to 48 percent of those surveyed.  Around 28 percent said that imports were equally safe.  On the whole, 61 percent of consumers think imported foods are less safe.  This percentage is identical to last year’s IFIC data.  Those who believe imported food is not as safe reported overwhelmingly –77 percent–that their perceptions was due to other countries having more lax regulations and fewer inspections.  A slightly smaller percentage believe that either other countries producing food have less sanitary conditions or that foods become contaminated on the way to the United States–61 and 60 percent, respectively.

When consumers do learn of food safety issues, only a small minority of them report that they will stop buying a product for that reason. The survey found that 17 percent of consumers in the last year stopped buying a specific brand of type of food or beverage because of a food safety concern.

The IFIC survey also asked consumers how good a job they thought certain elements of the food chain are doing to ensure the safety of food.  Ninety-four percent of consumers reported that the person who prepares food in their own home does either a “good,” “very good,” or “excellent” job ensuring safety.  Farmers and producers came in second at 82 percent, retailers at 73 percent, food manufacureres 73 percent, food service and restaurants 65 percent, and 56 percent said the government.  Marianne Smith Edge, IFIC’s senor vice president of nutrition and food safety, said she found it “interesting” that home food preparers were given he most trust, even though many studies have shown that “sometimes the biggest violators of food safety are at home.”

The IFIC survey was conduced by Mathew Greenwald & Associates and involved 1,057 consumers aged 18 to 80 and was reflective of the demographics–age, education, gender, ethnicity, and region–of the United States.