When it comes to information about the use of irradiation on food products, a survey shows that consumers find the government to be the most credible source.
Sean Fox, an agricultural economist at Kansas State University, and two other researchers have released the “Effect of Information and Information Source on Consumer Preferences for Food Irradiation.” Surveys were mailed to 800 Kansas residents to test consumers’ knowledge of and attitudes toward irradiation.
One-third of survey respondents received no information about food irradiation except for a brief statement about its affect on foodborne pathogens. The remaining two-thirds received a brochure providing answers to frequently asked questions about the process.
Fox says the brochures were altered to suggest that half were from an industry source using the wording "based on information provided by the food-irradiation industry." The other half were credited to government sources using the wording "based on information provided by the Food and Drug Administration and USDA."
On average, irradiated meat patties were chosen by 57 percent of individuals receiving government information; by 51 percent of those receiving industry information; and by 39 percent of those who received no information.