The FDA has released the latest results of its Food Safety and Nutrition Survey (FSANS) designed to assess consumers’ awareness, knowledge, understanding and reported behaviours relating to a variety of food safety and nutrition related topics. The findings are designed to help the FDA make better informed regulatory, policy, education, and other risk-management decisions to promote and protect public health.
The survey combines the previously separate Food Safety Survey and Health and Diet Survey, which were last conducted in 2016 and 2014, respectively. The survey was sent by mail to respondents, who could then submit it online or by mail. It incorporates approximately 4,400 responses collected during October and November of 2019.
Among the key findings:
- Most consumers are familiar with the Nutrition Facts label – 87% of respondents have looked at the Nutrition Facts label on food packages. The top four items that consumers look for on the label are: Calories, Total Sugar, Sodium, and Serving Size. Consumers report using the label most frequently for seeing “how high or low the food is in things like calories, salt, vitamins, or fat,” “for getting a general idea of the nutritional content of the food,” and “to compare different food items with each other.”
- Most consumers have seen menu labeling at restaurants – Most respondents (70%) reported that they have seen calorie information on menus and menu boards. Of those who have seen such information, 53% reported using the calorie information, and most often indicated using it to avoid ordering high-calorie menu items.
- Consumers are familiar with front of package claims – Over 80% of respondents have seen claims such as, “No added sugar,” “Whole grain,” “Organic,” Gluten-free,” “Low fat,” “No artificial ingredients,” “Low sugar,” and “No artificial colors.”
- Hand washing practices vary depending on the occasion – Consumers are more likely to wash hands with soap after touching raw meat (76%), than before preparing food (68%), or after cracking raw eggs (39%).
- The majority of consumers own a food thermometer, but usage varies depending on what is being cooked – Sixty-two (62%) of respondents reported owning a food thermometer. Usage among those who own food thermometers and cook the food ranges from 85% for whole chickens, 79% for beef, lamb or pork roasts, to 40% for chicken parts, 36% for burgers, 23% for egg dishes, and 20% for frozen meals.