Americans are almost universally aware of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and they are concerned about its potential impact on the safety of Gulf seafood, according to new data from a continuing survey conducted by the University of Minnesota.
The survey is part of an ongoing weekly consumer confidence poll conducted by The Food Industry Center at the U of M. During the most recent survey, 99 percent of respondents said they were aware of the spill and 85 percent say they are following news about it closely or have heard a lot about it.
The possible effects of the spill on Gulf seafood are of at least some concern to 89 percent of respondents, and 50 percent said they are "extremely concerned." When asked how the oil spill will affect their consumption of seafood, 54 percent report some impact, with 44 percent of that group saying they will only eat seafood that they know does not come from the Gulf of Mexico, and another 31 percent saying they will eat less seafood regardless of where it comes from.
"Given the amount of news coverage the oil spill has received, these results may not be surprising, but it does show that consumers are connecting the event to food safety," said Dennis Degeneffe, a research fellow at The Food Industry Center.
The ongoing study continuously tracks consumers' perceptions about food safety and the food supply, using telephone surveys of about 175 people each week. The total sample for the six-weeks since the beginning of the oil spill is 1,076. The study is conducted jointly with the Louisiana State University AgCenter and is funded by the National Center for Food Protection and Defense, a Homeland Security Center of Excellence.
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