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A Pew-commissioned poll by the bipartisan team of Hart Research and Public Opinion Strategies has found that among likely voters surveyed across the United States, about nine in 10 are in favor of the federal government’s adoption of additional food safety measures, and 64 percent think that imported foods are often or sometimes unsafe.
This concern about imported foods was a considerable rise from the 53 percent of respondents who felt the same way in a 2008 survey by the same pollsters. FDA is currently able to inspect less than 1 percent of the imported products it regulates, agency data indicates.
Overall, 58 percent of voters worry about bacterial contamination of the food supply -- with around a third of those saying they worry “a great deal.”
According to the survey, an overwhelming majority of American voters believe the federal government should protect the food supply, and they back numerous new measures to ensure it can do so. Respondents also support more frequent inspections of food suppliers and are growing more skeptical of imported foods’ safety.
“For too long the Food and Drug Administration, which is responsible for the safety of over 80 percent of the foods we eat, has not had adequate resources or power to protect Americans from dangers in the food supply,” said Erik Olson, director of Food and Consumer Product Safety for the Washington-based Pew Health Group. “This poll reflects a strong belief among most Americans that a healthy, nutritious diet is important, and they want to have confidence that their food is safe.”
Eighty-three percent of likely voters polled think the federal government should ensure food safety, and an even higher percentage -- 89 percent -- want the federal government to enact new measures to better protect people from foodborne illnesses.
Additionally, 91 percent of those polled support annual or semi-annual government inspections of facilities that process food at high risk of contamination, with 75 percent strongly supporting such action. According to government data, such facilities are inspected once a decade on average.
Survey results come as the Senate considers legislation to give FDA enhanced oversight and enforcement powers. The House version of the bill passed last month.
The national survey, conducted between June 29 and July 3, 2009, polled 1,005 likely voters. Full results can be found at www.MakeOurFoodSafe.org.