Published online: Mar 24, 2009
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The survey in February for the American Society for Quality (ASQ) finds 93 percent of adults say food manufacturers, growers or suppliers should be held legally responsible when individuals are fatally sickened by tainted food.

Some 82 percent believe the food industry should be required to follow international standards on food safety and 61 percent feel the U.S. food recall process is only fair or poor.

"The United States overall does have a safe food supply," ASQ food safety expert Steven Wilson says. "However, whether food manufacturers have process controls in place or not, some have plant sanitation issues that they need to address."

Wilson says there are also other issues to consider.

"The problem lies with a specific outbreak," he says. "Determining its root cause is often difficult and necessary, otherwise correcting the root cause and preventing future outbreaks can't be achieved."

Some 80 percent of respondents believe the federal government should select the agencies that inspect the facilities of food manufacturers, but only 48 percent say they actually trust the government's ability to ensure the safety of food products.

Only half believe the federal government does a good job enforcing laws that ensure the food supply is safe.

The survey found 93 percent of adults are aware of instances of food recalls due to health and safety concerns in the last three years, up from 79 percent in a 2007 poll.

A total of 92 percent Americans are at least somewhat concerned about recalls.

When recalls on brands adults usually purchase do occur, 47 percent would temporarily purchase another brand and then purchase the recalled brand once it was safe. This is down from 55 percent in 2007.

Some 27 percent would avoid using any brand made by the manufacturer of a recalled product. This is up from 21 percent in 2007.

"The cost of a recall does not just concern lost revenue and charges for the recall but also in loss of respect for the brand or the product," Wilson says. "In this way all members of the food chain are hurt by the actions of bad players.