Canadians believe the greatest responsibility for food safety lies with food companies, but they do not trust them.
People trust themselves the most when it comes to ensuring their food is safe but few make an effort to learn more about production or processing.
“Consumers do not hold themselves responsible for food safety even though they have the greatest confidence in themselves on the issue of food safety,” said Ashley Bruner, research co-ordinator for the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity.
“Canadians are not really digging down into how aspects of the food system affect food safety, but that is not to say they are totally passive on this issue,” she said.
The centre conducts annual research to track public trust on a wide range of issues and current events that are ranked on a scale of one to 10.
People indicated they are worried about keeping food affordable and safe. Food safety was ranked higher than the rising costs of energy or health care.
“These issues, the safety of food imported from outside of Canada and food safety overall are ranked fifth and sixth out of 18 life issues,” she said during a recent webinar.
This study found nearly half trust farmers on food safety but when it comes to food companies, the public confidence is low at around 20 percent.
Providing information on food safety is linked to corporate transparency and those surveyed placed trust in detailed labelling and third party audits of processors. They want all ingredients identified on labels, alerts to possible allergens and public sharing of third party audit results on company websites.
Four out of 10 would like safe handling and cooking instructions on food packages and the same number want company websites to provide a way to ask questions about the safety of their food products.
Consumers said processors and manufacturers are most responsible for providing easy-to-understand information about how food is grown or processed so they can make informed decisions.