Study Finds Peanut Crisis Has Eroded Food Safety Confidence

After January's national salmonella outbreak of peanut products, 22.5 percent of consumers in the study -- conducted jointly with the Louisiana State University AgCenter -- said they were confident the U.S. food supply is safer than a year ago. Eight people died and more than 500 have become ill in the most recent outbreak, which may have originated in a Georgia peanut plant and spread through peanut-butter products sold nationwide.

The drop in food confidence mirrors a similar drop last June, when a salmonella outbreak traced to jalapeno peppers sickened nearly 1,500 people.

The study involves continuously tracking consumer confidence in food supply safety via a weekly online survey of about 175 consumers from across the nation. The consumers are selected each week by a national market research company.

This indicator is unique because of its continuous tracking feature, Jean Kinsey, director of the Food Industry Center at the University of Minnesota, said in a statement.  "The irony of this is -- less than 1 percent of the peanut butter consumed in the United States was involved in the contamination, but some people will not eat anything with peanuts," Kinsey told United Press International.


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