Floridians rank the importance of food safety behind only the economy and health care, according to a new study from the UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education.
In the online public opinions survey surrounding food-related issues in Florida, 85 percent of respondents said food safety was highly or extremely important. Floridians in the study ranked food safety third out of 15 identified issues, followed by food production practices at No. 9 and genetically modified food at No. 14. PIE Center researchers developed the 15-item index to track trends on how Floridians rank the importance of the issues over time.
Joy Rumble, an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication and the PIE Center researcher who led the study (seriously, more titles?) said, “They’re really concerned about food safety. That was a really important issue for them. Although GMOs seem like a big deal in the media, when compared to the 15 issues, respondents are ranking GMOs toward the bottom.”
Doug Archer, associate dean for research with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and a food safety expert told Southeast AgNetd that foodborne disease statistics suggest that Floridians may give themselves more credit for their food-handling habits than they deserve. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show Florida’s foodborne-illness rate led the nation from 1998 to 2008, but this may be at least in part attributable to the outstanding reporting system of the Florida Department of Health and the counties.
“Given our rate of foodborne illness, I don’t think what they think they do is actually what they do,” Archer said.
The PIE Center will host a webinar at 2 p.m. on Dec. 17 to dive deeper into the food survey topic. Rumble and Archer will discuss the survey’s food safety results.
Then on Jan. 28 at 1 p.m., the center will host a second webinar with Rumble and Alison Van Eenennaam, an animal genomics and biotechnology expert from the University of California, Davis, to discuss the survey’s findings on genetically modified foods.
Learn more about the webinars at http://www.piecenter.com/easy-as-pie/.