Consumer confidence in the safety of foods and beverages sold in the U.S. has dropped over the past five years according to survey results conducted in May/June of 2013.

Among a national sample of 2,100 adults, only one in six express a "great deal" of confidence in food safety.   By comparison, in 2008 approximately 25% of adults expressed a "great deal" of confidence.

The safety of imported foods is now the most pressing concern, followed by concerns about:

  • exposure to pesticides on foods
  • exposure to food-borne pathogens (e-coli, salmonella, etc.)
  • use of antibiotics or growth hormones in livestock

Efforts to consume fresh, unprocessed foods have increased over the same time span that confidence in food safety declined.  Since 2008 the percentage of adults who strongly agree they "make a strong effort to consume fresh foods instead of processed foods" increased from 24% to 32%.  Many are trying to eat both the cleanest and safest foods they can find.

Other findings include:

  • More than 70% of adults have purchased foods or beverages with clean label package claims in the past year.
  • The most popular clean labels include: all natural ingredients, no artificial ingredients, no artificial preservatives, no high fructose corn syrup, organic and no artificial colors.
  • Millennials are the age group most likely to turn to organic foods.

According to Karen Bundy, V.P. at Multi-sponsor Surveys, "Our recent Clean Label study found Millennials more attracted to clean labels such as 'all natural,' 'organic,' 'gluten-free,' free-range,' and 'hormone-free,' than baby boomers or older adults who are more focused on sugar, sodium and whole grains."

Mainstream media coverage of food issues, good or bad, matters more than data.

More insights are available here