The poll of 3,017 participants, surveyed in July, found that 57.4% were concerned about food safety, down from 61.2% a year earlier. The proportion who were not at all concerned about the safety of their food was up to more than one in ten (10.7%), from 6.6% last year.
However, nearly twice as many respondents said they had recently been seriously ill from a food-related illness. Among those who said they had suffered from a foodborne illness in the last three months, 22% said it was serious, up from just 12% in 2010.
Thomson Reuters-NPR Health polls are conducted annually on a range of health-related topics, and this survey to gauge public sentiment about foodborne illness and food safety was first conducted last year.
The poll found that lower income affected the level of food safety concern, with 53% of respondents who earned less than $25,000 a year saying they were very concerned with the safety of their food, compared with 30% to 36% of those in higher income groups.
Meat generated the most concern, when respondents were asked about the safety of specific foods. Forty-four percent said they were most concerned about the safety of meat, followed by fresh produce (30%), seafood (20%) and dairy products (6%).
Concerns about meat safety had dropped seven percentage points from 51% last year, while concerns about the safety of fresh produce had surged seven percentage points, from 21% in 2010.
The full survey results are available here .