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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
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
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).