TOP 3 CONSUMER CONCERNS ABOUT FOOD SAFETY
Apr. 25, 2014
Source: American Soybean Association news release
Consumers often receive incorrect information on today's food supply. For a farmer, getting the correct information to them could be a matter of simply taking two hours a month to educate those who have questions about their food.
Recent U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance research found what consumers' top three concerns are about agriculture. Find out the facts to help you set the record straight.
Consumers express concern that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) may cause cancer, obesity and diabetes. In fact, a national survey conducted for the biotechnology industry recently found that eight out of 10 people were most interested in whether GM crops cause cancer. But for nearly 20 years, consumers have been eating biotech foods safely, with no evidence of harm demonstrated anywhere in the world.
Here are some other points to keep in mind about food safety:
• Genetically modified foods are among the most extensively studied scientific subjects in history, according to Forbes in its "2000+ Reasons Why GMOs Are Safe To Eat" article.
• GM seed varieties require at least 13 years of research and development as well as regulatory approvals before they're brought to the market. That's longer than the time it takes to bring pharmaceutical medicine to the market.
• During the approval process, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proves that a GMO trait is safe to eat, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proves that a GMO trait is safe for the environment and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) proves that a GMO trait is safe to grow.
Concern 2: Anything deemed not "natural" is a threat
According to the Gate-to-Plate survey of more than 1,000 moms, commissioned by CommonGround, 53 percent of moms surveyed said it's important to purchase food labeled "all natural," whenever possible, because it is a more nutritious choice for their family.
Here's the truth:
• All-natural doesn't mean nutritional benefits.
• As required by USDA, meat, poultry and egg products labeled as "natural" must be minimally processed and contain no artificial ingredients.
• The natural label does not include any standards regarding farm practices and only applies to processing of meat and egg products.
Concern 3: Science and logic don't help - shared values drive consumer trust
"People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." Often attributed to Theodore Roosevelt, this quote sums up how the Center for Food Integrity (CFI) is building trust in today's food system.
Tips to keep in mind:
• Instead of spouting facts, let consumers know you care and are committed to growing a safe food supply for your family and their families. Remind them that farmers are consumers, too.
• Shared values are three to five times more important to building trust than skill and expertise about a topic, according to research sponsored by CFI and conducted in partnership with Iowa State University.
• Always stay transparent and follow this model - Act responsibly. Admit mistakes. Engage stakeholders. Build trust.
Now that you know how to address consumers' concerns about food safety, learn how to tackle the tough questions when it comes to antibiotics in animal agriculture and GMOs.