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Beef Customer Satisfaction

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by Rick McCarty

Executive Director, Issues Management Ð'-- NCBA


The checkoff-funded beef safety tracking survey conducted

in November 2004 found that fresh beef steaks/roasts remained

the protein with the highest consumer confidence in safety. The

survey asks consumers to give grades to foods for being safe to

eat and 76 percent of survey respondents gave steak/roast an A

or B for safety.


The beef safety tracking surveys are quarterly telephone

surveys of a national, random sample of U.S. adults.

Vegetarians do not answer the survey. The margin of error for

survey data is plus/minus 3.2 percent.

General food safety

The percentage of Americans giving U.S. food in general an

A or B for safety has remained relatively stable with some small

fluctuations in the past year. However, this survey found the

percentage of A/B grades (70%) significantly lower than in

November 2003 (74%) and at the lowest score since November

2002 (69%). The November 2004 score is much lower than the

77 percent measured during the last survey in May 2004.

Safety of specific fresh foods

The safety ratings for specific fresh foods remained stable

during the past year with no significant differences in the

ratings in November 2004. Fresh fruits and vegetables are

consistently at the top of the list when it comes to safety grades

given to specific fresh foods one might buy in a grocery store.

Fresh beef steaks and roasts receive the highest meat product

safety grade (76%).

Tied for second place with 70 percent of consumers grading

A or B were fresh pork chops and microwaveable foods. Foods

with lower consumer safety grades were fresh ground beef

(64%), fresh chicken (63%), fresh fish (60%), fresh ground pork

(56%) and pre-prepared foods from the deli (52%).

Specific concerns regarding food safety

The safety tracking survey asks consumers to rate their level

of concern about specific safety issues on a 5-point scale, with

one being not concerned and five being extremely concerned.

The percentage of "top two" scores (4-5 ratings on the scale)

indicate the issues of greatest concern.

Safety issues tend not to be top of mind with consumers,

evidenced by the fact that safety issues barely register when

consumers state reasons for eating less beef. However, when

asked to think about specific safety concerns, bacteria (62%)

and pesticides (62%) top the list. Consumer concerns about

chemical additives (58%) and mad cow disease (57%) make up

a second tier of safety concerns. Concerns about mad cow

disease did not increase significantly as a result of the first U.S.

case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in December

2003, and in fact, currently are significantly lower than the 61

percent concern level measured in November 2003.

Other issues rated as lower concerns include hormones

(50%), genetically modified foods (46%), antibiotics



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