According to a new survey commissioned by Deloitte, 90 percent of U.S. consumers believe that food recalls have risen or remained stable. That compares to a 2008 poll where 73 percent of those surveyed said there had been more recalls than in 2007.

Despite the perceived increase in food recalls, it appears that they’ve had modest effect on the respondents’ concern about food quality. Of the 1,102 consumers surveyed in late March, 65 percent said they are concerned about food quality — while that’s significant, it’s down 17 percent from 2008 levels. Pat Conroy, Deloitte's vice chairman and U.S. consumer products practice leader, attributes the decline to an increasing consumer need for awareness and engagement in product choice.

"Consumers view food safety and quality as important issues, and are looking to manufacturers, food companies and government regulatory bodies to drive communication, as well as tackle food quality and safety issues," he says.

Seventy-five percent of consumers responding said food manufacturers are responsible for recall communication, while 73 percent said that job fell to the government. Retailers and the media have less of a perceived duty to share recall information, at 53 percent and 51 percent, respectively.

Consumers also said they are read food labels more carefully today. Slightly more than half said they use country-of-origin labels when buying a fresh meat, fish or produce item, and 45 percent said they'd like that information to be available online for all ingredients in packaged or bottled food.

Food ingredients are top of mind with many; 53 percent said they frequently or always read the ingredient list for unfamiliar packaged foods. That’s up from 50 percent in 2008. However, only 45 percent said they understand at least three-quarters of the ingredients listed.

The survey was conducted online.

Source: Deloitte,