Two-thirds of Americans favor increasing funding to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure food safety in the U.S. Furthermore, 9 in 10 Americans also believe that the Federal government should be responsible for ensuring that food is safe to eat.

And, 3 in 4 Americans say if it costs 1 to 3% more money to buy safer foods. they’d be willing to pay for those foods kept safer by the new food safety measures.

A poll from the Pew Charitable Trusts, conducted by Hart Research Associates in April and May 2011, finds that when it comes to what Americans eat, they’re really keen on Big Government playing a watchdog and enforcement role.

Specifically,

  • 93% of Americans favor ensuring that the FDA can issue mandatory food recalls and detain food products it has reason to believe are unsafe
  • 91% favor ensuring that FDA food inspectors have the ability to access food company records related to food safety
  • 91% favor requiring growers of fresh fruit and veg to meet nationwide safety standards for water quality, manure use and worker sanitation
  • 91% favor ensuring that FDA can enforce the new requirements that food companies identify as possible points of contamination and monitor measures to make sure they are working to improve these processes
  • 90% favor requiring foreign countries that export food to the U,S. to certify that their food safety programs are as good as those in the U.S.

Pew and Hart provide an interesting context for this survey — one of the early questions in the poll poses two points of view about government: that government should do more to solve problems and help meet needs of people; and that government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals. The split between the “government should do more” vs. “do less” is 53% to 42%.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: When it comes to food safety, Americans tend to be a “government should do more” polity — with public awareness of food recalls for e. coli, botulism, and other public health hazards at an all-time high given the visibility of the stories in mass media and via mobile apps like the All Recalls mobile phone app from Urban Apps.

In the meantime, Republicans are looking to reduce the FDA’s budgets for food safety and child nutrition (specifically, the WIC program): this, in the wake of not only safety challenges in the nation’s food distribution chain, but over-the-counter and prescription drug safety issues as well as medical device problems in the post-marketing surveillance era.

Consumers are looking for greater transparency and accountability from the industries that serve them: food is part of peoples’ personal health ecologies, and food safety is central to whole health. When it comes to ensuring that safety for themselves and their families, Republicans should realize this is one aspect of peoples’ lives where they like the idea of Big Government “intruding” on their lives.

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