Food fears shaping shopping habits: poll
Tuesday, December 16, 2008 | 10:07 AM ET
By Tara Kimura, CBCNews.ca
What have you been packing in your lunch pail? Or more specifically, what have you been stuffing in your sandwiches? A recent survey conducted by the University of Guelph suggests that after the listeria outbreak tied to deli meats, fewer Canadians are opting to eat the ready-to-eat products.
The survey, which included 2,000 people in the Guelph region, found the proportion of people who said they never served ready-to-eat meat at home climbed from six per cent to 39 per cent.
The November poll also found:
- Thirty per cent of participants said they've stopped buying ready-to-eat meat products.
- The proportion of consumers who said they avoided deli meat in restaurants jumped from nine per cent to 56 per cent.
- Fifty-two per cent of people polled say they are paying closer attention to food labels.
- Thirty-two per cent said they're cooking more at home.
But the researchers also noted the listeria outbreak had not shaken consumer confidence in the food safety system. They found 75 per cent of participants believed deli meats are safe to eat and 70 per cent said their perception of food safety hasn't changed.
Researcher John Cranfield, who teaches food economics at the University of Guelph, told CBC News that the results may fluctuate with time.
"It's important to emphasize what the long-run effects are going to be," he said.
"We don't know whether those 30 per cent are going to never eat ready-to-eat meats ever again or whether it's just a transitory phenomenon that's going to erode away over time as other issues start to come into their mind and they start to realize no one else is getting sick from this so maybe this stuff is safe to eat again."
How did the listeria outbreak affect your eating habits? Now that nearly three months have passed after the outbreak, are you still cautious about what you eat or do you believe the threat is over?
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From trends and culture to politics and nutrition, Food Bytes serves up tasty tidbits about food and the issues surrounding it that flavour our everyday lives.
About the writers
Amber Hildebrandt writes for CBCNews.ca in Toronto. Growing up on a farm in Manitoba, she acquired an insatiable appetite, but it was during a stint in Japan that she developed her discerning tastebuds and "foodie" ways.
Andrea Chiu is an associate producer at CBC Radio Digital. Though she loves to eat, cook and discuss food, don't ask her to bake. It never turns out well. She tweets as @TOfoodie on Twitter and organizes food and wine events in Toronto called FoodieMeet.
Tara Kimura is the consumer life reporter for CBCNews.ca, covering a wide range of issues that range from rising food costs and the growing organic movement, to new trends in the marketplace.
Andree Lau is a CBC web reporter in Calgary. Her journalism career includes seven years as a CBC-TV reporter. Her own blog called "are you gonna eat that?" chronicles her eating adventures (including sampling snake and camel hoof tendon).
Jessica Wong is a CBCNews.ca writer who loves to eat and cook, as well as discuss, read and watch programming about food, sometimes all at once.
Kevin Yarr, CBCNews.ca's writer in Prince Edward Island, wrote about food and beer for national and regional magazines before joining the CBC. He acquired a desire for new tastes on his first trip to Europe, and an appreciation of eating locally and in season when he finally settled down on P.E.I.
Elizabeth Bridge is a writer with the CBC Digital Archives in Toronto. She first ventured into the kitchen as a child to indulge a sweet tooth by baking cookies and making fudge. A student budget compelled her to be a vegetarian (for a while) and instilled in her an ongoing curiosity about food and cooking.
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