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According to a Consumer Reports poll released this week, Americans are becoming increasingly concerned about US food safety, and the overwhelming majority wants the government to do more to monitor the American food supply.

Currently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is only required to inspect domestic food production facilities (other than meat plants, which the USDA inspects daily) once every 5 to 10 years; foreign facilities are FDA-inspected even less often. According to the poll, a full 2/3 of Americans believe the FDA should inspect domestic and foreign food-processing facilities at least monthly. Eighty-three percent are worried about harmful bacteria and/or chemicals in our food, and 81% are worried about the safety of imported food.

As we discussed in September, the FDA’s new Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) laws do not apply to processed foods, or to meats and fish coming from butcher shops and fish markets. Consumer Reports found that a full 94% of Americans want specialty meat and fish stores to instate COOL for their products, and 95% would like to see processed foods labeled by country of origin as well. As we talked about last week, 93% of American consumers also want an “organic” fish label that is not applicable to farmed fish fed wild fish meal, or to fish grown in ocean-polluting fish farms.

As for cloned food animals, 70% of Americans want them banned entirely. Ninety-five percent want foods derived from genetically engineered (GE) animals to be labeled as such, and more than 60% say they wouldn’t even buy meat or milk products derived from cloned or GE animals.

Concerning the “naturally raised” label the USDA is now considering for meat, which currently requires only that animals not be given antibiotics or artificial hormones or be fed the byproducts of other animals, Americans want the label to signify higher standards. If the vast majority of consumers had their druthers, meat labeled “naturally raised” should come from animals who were not fed chemicals, drugs, and/or animal byproducts, who were raised in a natural environment, who ate a natural diet, who were not cloned or GE, who had outdoor access, who were treated humanely, and who were not confined.

It would be great if the FDA could see numbers like this as the mandate it really is for CHANGE in the US food economy.

Click here to read the Consumer Reports poll for yourself.

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