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Food Safety Is Major Concern of Food Shoppers

By Judy McBride
September 17, 1997

When it comes to buying food, avoiding foodborne disease is as important as taste to both men and women. That’s one finding of USDA’s latest nationwide food consumption survey, called “What We Eat In America.”

The survey was conducted by the Food Surveys Research Group of USDA's Agricultural Research Service.

Eighty-eight percent of the women questioned during the first two years of the survey rated food safety as “very important”--slightly higher than the 86 percent who gave taste a similar rating. Food safety captured a “very important” vote from 79 percent of the men questioned; taste was very important to 78 percent.

Facts about a food’s nutritional quality were less important, however. More than half of men and 40 percent of women rarely or never use label information about a serving size or statements describing how foods and health problems are related.

Nearly 4,000 men and women answered these and other questions about their attitudes toward and knowledge of dietary guidance and health. They were among the more than 10,000 who participated in the latest food consumption survey (1994-96) during its first two years. Other findings include:

On any given day, more than 90 percent of children ages 1 to 11 eat breakfast. This meal contributes only about one-fifth of the calories children eat daily. But it provides higher percentages of many vitamins and minerals that are used to fortify ready-to-eat cereals.

America’s teens drink nearly twice as much soft drinks as milk. Adolescent girls drink less than 8 ounces of milk daily on average; adolescent boys drink about 10 ounces.

Men and women eat less than one ounce of dark green and deep yellow vegetables daily. That averages out to about two cooked broccoli florets or two raw baby carrots.

Data from the third year is expected to be released early next year. Combined 1994-95 data are available on the World Wide Web at:

Scientific contact: Katherine S. Tippett, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, Food Surveys Research Group, Riverdale, Md., phone (301) 734-8457, fax (301) 734-5496,