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Most Americans Put Deficit Reduction Ahead of Increasing Food Safety Inspections

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Just a few days after the House of Representatives passed a bill that slashes spending on food safety and nutrition programs, most Americans say reducing the deficit is more important than increasing food safety inspections. Either way, Americans are mostly confident their food is safe.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of American Adults shows that 57% say reducing the federal budget deficit is more important than increasing safety inspections for food sold in the United States. Just 29% say increasing safety inspections is more important. Another 14% are not sure.(To see survey question wording, click here.)

A plurality (45%) believes increased free market competition is more likely to ensure the safety of food sold in the United States than more government regulation. But 39% believe more government regulation would be more effective in ensuring food safety. Another 15% are undecided. 

Given a scenario in which there were no government food safety regulations, just over half of adults (53%) believe restaurants would make more money by taking steps to ensure their food was safe for customers rather than cutting corners. Thirty percent (30%) believe restaurants would do better by not worrying about the safety of the food they serve. Another 17% are undecided.

Regardless of how it is regulated, 88% believe food sold in the United States is at least somewhat safe, with 41% who say it’s Very Safe. Only 10% believe the U.S. food supply is Not Very or Not At All Safe. 

Americans are slightly more confident than they were in April of last year, when 81% said they were at least somewhat confident in the safety of food they buy at grocery stores. This finding was at 77% in May 2007.

Strong majorities of adults from virtually all demographic groups express confidence in U.S. food safety, but there are differences in opinion when it comes to regulation. While most Republicans say more free market competition will do more to ensure food safety, a majority of Democrats (52%) favor increased regulations. Adults not affiliated with either major political party are a little more divided, but a plurality (44%) sides with free market competition.

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The survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on June 19-20, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.


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