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Food Safety Survey


The Food Safety Survey is nationally-representative telephone survey of consumers knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs about food safety. The survey results are used to measure trends in consumer food safety habits, to better understand consumer attitudes about novel technologies, and to evaluate educational messages directed at consumers. Specific topics may be added to individual surveys. For example the 2009 survey included questions about how recent food recalls affected consumer confidence in the food supply and what effect, if any, recent recalls had on consumers' home food safety behaviors. This information will be used to develop strategies to communicate food recall information to the public more effectively. Started in 1988 and sponsored by the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture, the Food Safety Survey is a nationally representative cross-sectional survey conducted every 3 to 5 years to track consumer awareness, perceptions, and behaviors toward food safety issues.


  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Data Years Available

1988, 1993, 1998, 2001, 2006, 2009


Periodic (Every 3-5 years)


Computer assisted telephone interview (CATI) Telephone survey.

Selected Content

The survey topics include (1) perception of individual and societal risk related to food consumption, (2) food handling, (3) food product safety label understanding and usage, (4) consumption of potentially risky foods, (5) attitudes toward new food technologies, (6) perception, knowledge and experience with foodborne illness, and (7) food safety knowledge sources. Household demographic data are also collected.

Population covered

The survey covers the civilian noninstitutionalized population aged 18 and over residing in the United States at the time of the interview.


The Food Safety Survey is a single-stage random-digit-dialing tracking survey of a nationally representative sample of about 4,000 English or Spanish speaking non-institutionalized adults (aged 18 years and older) in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Responses are weighted to adjust for the number of land phone lines in a household, number of adults in a household, and gender, rate/ethnicity, age, and education distribution in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Two versions of the questionnaire were sequentially administered to the sample. Version 1 had 2,275 respondents and Version 2 had 2,264 respondents. Households were selected from a nationally representative single-stage sample of telephone numbers generated from the GENESYS system. The eligible respondent in a household was selected using the most-recent birthday method. The survey was conducted by a contractor during January 12 - June 20, 2006. Results have been weighted to adjust for number of land phone lines in a household, number of adults in a household, and Census distributions of gender, race/ethnicity, age, and education in the 50 states and District of Columbia. The questionnaire has Core questions and survey year specific questions. Core questions remain largely unchanged from year to year and allow for trends analysis. The core questions include: consumer food handling behaviors, consumption of potentially risky foods, and general food safety risk perceptions. Survey year specific questions include: awareness and knowledge of mercury in fish, food recall behaviors and attitudes, and perceptions of food technologies such as biotechnology. Questions used for the Healthy People 2020 analysis are marked "HP". Tracking questions from 1988, 1993, 1998, 2001, and 2006 Food Safety Surveys are marked TR88, TR93, TR98, TR01, and TR06. There are a few places noted where there are missing question numbers. This was because questions were removed late in the survey review process and to keep numbering consistent across survey years.

Response rate and sample size

The 2006 survey included 4,539 respondents. Response rates are computed by individual question and vary considerably depending on the question asked. (Prior year sample sizes range from 1620 to 4482)


Food Safety Survey (OMB Control Number 0910-0345-Reinstatement). Federal Register; 74:177. September 15, 2009. pp 47256-47257.

2006 Food Safety Survey Topline Frequency Report. Available at: Food Safety Survey.