Report: Majority of consumers consider U.S. food supply safe, number of those who want more information on food labels up

Most U.S. consumers consider the food supply safe, but they still want more information, according to a survey released today.

The number of Americans who want more information on food labels has risen 6 percent in the last two years, according to an International Food Council survey.

About 24 percent of consumers indicated they would like more information on labels, up from 18 percent in 2010. Nutrition, allergens and ingredients topped the list as the items consumers would like more information about, according to the study, Consumer Perceptions of Food Technology and Sustainability.

The survey looked at consumers’ attitudes toward the use of biotechnology and sustainability in food production.

Major findings

  • Despite the increased focus on food safety and production methods, most consumers still are confident the U.S. food supply is safe.
  • More people have heard about sustainability and consider it important than in years past. However, most people aren’t willing to pay higher prices to eat sustainable foods.
  • 66 percent of respondents support the FDA’s biotechnology current labeling policy.

Here’s a breakdown of the data:

Labeling requirements

  • 76 percent of consumers couldn’t think of any other information to add to labels outside of current requirements.
  • Of the 24 percent that wanted more information on food labels, 36 percent wanted more data on nutritional content, 19 percent wants more data on ingredients, and 18 percent wanted more data of food safety, such as allergens.


Sustainability can be defined as a method of agriculture that uses ecological relationships to create farming practices that will last long term.

  • 56 percent of those surveyed had read or heard something regarding sustainability, up from 50 percent in 2011, and 41 percent in 2008.
  • 69 percent say that sustainability is an important factor when deciding which foods to purchase or consume. However, only 33 percent said they would pay more for sustainable foods.
  • Of all the aspects of sustainability, conserving the natural habitat ranked at the top of the list, followed by ensuring a safe food supply for a growing population, and reducing pesticide use.


Biotechnology refers to the use of scientific techniques such as genetic engineering. The survey defines animal biotechnology as “the science of improving the health and quality of farm animals (i.e., cows, pigs, chickens, etc.) through the use of a variety of scientific techniques in breeding and processing.”

  • 74 percent of those surveyed were aware of the use of biotechnology in food production facilities.
  • About 40 percent had a favorable view of the use of biotechnology in food production.
  • 57 percent of Americans have an awareness of animal biotechnology. However, of those who viewed the use of animal biotechnology unfavorably, about 55 percent said it was due to a lack of information.

Other interesting stats

  • 51 percent of respondents are “somewhat confident” in the safety of the U.S. food supply. 18 percent were “very confident,” 21 percent were neither confident or not confident, 9 percent were “not very confident,” and only 1 percent were “not at all confident.”
  • The biggest concerns regarding food safety were disease/contamination (29 percent), handling/preparation (21 percent), and preservatives/chemicals (13 percent).

Survey stats

  • 750 U.S. adults were surveyed online
  • The survey took place in March of this year

To read the full report, click here.

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