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    Consumers Trust Grocers, Activists for Food Information

    WAUKESHA, Wis.-- U.S. consumers have greater faith in consumer advocatesand grocers than in the government or food companies when it comes toproviding useful information about food choices, according to a newnational survey by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Media commissioned byMorgan&Myers, a communications firm specializing in food and agriculturebased here.

    WAUKESHA, Wis.-- U.S. consumers have greater faith in consumer advocates
    and grocers than in the government or food companies when it comes to
    providing useful information about food choices, according to a new
    national survey by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Media commissioned by
    Morgan&Myers, a communications firm specializing in food and agriculture
    based here.

    About two-thirds (64 percent) of consumers in the poll said advocates
    and activist groups have consumers' best interests in mind when it comes
    to providing information about food choices. Those feelings were even
    more pronounced among "influentials" - potential thought leaders
    identified in the survey. Nearly three out of four (74 percent) of
    "influentials" feel advocates and activists have consumers' best
    interests in mind, according to the survey.

    Advocates and activists were among six groups researchers asked
    consumers about in the survey, which was part of a larger GfK OmniTel
    consumer product quality poll commissioned by The Worldcom Public
    Relations Group, a network of independently owned public relations
    consulting firms.

    Retail grocers also ranked highly (62 percent); and food manufacturers
    ranked third (53 percent). At 47 percent, the U.S. government ranked
    fourth, ahead only of fast food companies (26 percent).

    "These results support the idea that activists may have been successful
    in dominating discussions about food policy, and possibly engaging
    effectively with the important 'influentials' audience," said Bob
    Giblin, a senior public relations counselor and research director who
    tracks food and agricultural issues for the agency.

    Giblin said nearly a billion meals are served daily in the United
    States, "yet the food industry and government continue to have an uphill
    march to build confidence and trust."

    Confidence that the U.S. government has adequate regulations to assure
    the safety of food ranked fifth out of six categories in the Worldcom
    poll. Only half (50 percent) of consumers said they are confident in the
    adequacy of food safety regulations, ranking well below automobiles (83
    percent), consumer electronics (80 percent) and clothing (77 percent),
    and slightly below pharmaceuticals (51 percent). The only category food
    safety ranked above was toys (37 percent).

    Ground beef and toys were subjects of highly publicized recalls in the
    past year. Only 46 percent of Americans feel the government has adequate
    food safety regulations for meat (i.e., beef, pork and poultry), and 48
    percent for seafood.

    Breads, cereals and grain products rated highest (65 percent), followed
    by fruits and vegetables (58 percent), and dairy products (57 percent).

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