The Center for Food Integrity has released results from its latest consumer survey. More than 2,000 consumers were asked to rate their level of concern on a variety of issues — food safety, humane treatment of animals, immigration reform, sustainability and economics.

The top three items that respondents indicated they were “very concerned” about were rising food cost, rising energy cost and the state of the U.S. economy. The survey showed 60 percent of respondents are more concerned about food prices today than they were a year ago.

 Disturbingly, the survey also indicates that consumer trust in food safety is decreasing.

“It is interesting to note that consumers are more concerned about food safety than the war in Iraq,” says Charlie Arnot, chief executive officer for the Center for Food Integrity.

On the positive side for livestock producers, when it comes to the humane treatment of farm animals consumers place their trust in farmers and producers. However, advocacy groups came in second as the second most trusted.

“We have a lot more work to do to earn trust,” says Arnot. “Confidence that farmers and producers have the same shared values as consumers is five times more important to the consumer than the technical skills or competency that farmers or producer have. Consumers are much more interested in knowing you care, rather than how you do it.”

Survey highlights

  • "I am confident in the safety of the food I eat" = 28 percent strongly agree.
  • "Government food safety agencies are doing a good job ensuring the safety of the food we eat" = 32 percent strongly disagreed.
  • "I trust food produced in the United States more than I trust food produced outside the United States" = 51 percent strongly agreed.
  • "Today’s food supply is safer than it was when I was growing up" = 36 percent strongly disagreed.
  • "If farm animals are treated decently and humanely, I have no problem consuming meat, milk and eggs" = 55 percent strongly agreed.
  • "U.S. meat is derived from humanely treated animals" = 29 percent strongly disagreed
  • "Farm animals that are raised for food should be treated the same way household pet owners treat their pets" = 24 percent strongly agreed.
  • "I would support a law in my state to ensure the humane treatment of farm animals" = 47 percent strongly agreed.