Many Canadians doubt Chinese products: poll

Only a third of Canadians believe made-in-China products such as pet food and toothpaste are safe, a new poll suggests.

Only a third of Canadians believe made-in-China products such as pet food and toothpaste are safe, a new Decima Research poll suggests.

The survey, made available exclusively to the Canadian Press,suggests 28 per cent of respondents felt such products are not safe at all, and another 33 per cent felt they're not all that safe.

Pollster Bruce Anderson said the worry cuts right across the country, through all income groups, although older people have less confidence in Chinese imports than younger people.

He said the poll results follow a rash of stories about tainted pet food and toothpastefrom China and followups about troubles with Chinese manufacturing procedures. They are a wake-up call for importers.

"I think there's certainly a burden of proof that's shifted on those who want to import products from China," he said.

"I don't think it's necessarily the case that people are looking at the grocery shelves differently and examining products to see if they are from China, but I certainly think it's a message to retailers and importers of products," he said.

"If stories of this kind continue to develop, consumers are already wary and will become increasingly anxious about whether the mechanisms are in place to protect their health and safety."

He said the stories likely made consumers more anxious about safeguards, or a lack of them in the Chinese regulatory system.

Burden on importersto prove products safe

Meanwhile, the same poll found 62 per cent of those surveyed said they have a great deal or at least a fair bit of confidence in Canadian inspection processes intended to protect consumers from hazardous products.

Anderson said this is a strong —but not overwhelming — vote of confidence, and suggested there's an elevated concern about Chinese manufacturing processes in general.

People's expectations are high when it comes to protecting their personal health and safety, he said.

The poll suggested people may feel it's impossible for Canadian inspectors to monitor imports from around the world.

"The global marketplace … has made it a much more difficult challenge."

The survey, conducted June 21 to 24, contacted 1,000 people and is considered accurate to within plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.