ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- About about two-thirds (63%) of all U.S. adults are extremely or very concerned with the cleanliness of restaurants where they eat -- this translates to approximately 140 million adults.

Many are also concerned with the safety of food purchased in the grocery store (52%), the quality of drinking water in their community (51%), the healthiness of ingredients in the foods they eat (44%) and the origin of the fresh produce they consume (41%). In all of these cases, women are more likely to be concerned than men, and adults ages 35 and over are more likely to be concerned than those ages 18 to 34.

These are some of the results of a survey conducted online by Harris Interactive(R) between October 10 and 12, 2006 among a national sample of 2,357 U.S. adults aged 18 or over.

From mid-September to early October, just prior to the fielding of this survey, the U.S. experienced a multi-state E. coli outbreak due to contamination of bagged spinach. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, as of Oct. 6, 2006, there were a reported 199 persons infected from 26 states. Three deaths in confirmed cases were associated with the outbreak.

Nearly all adults (96%) in our survey say they are at least somewhat familiar with the outbreak, with one-third (35%) extremely or very familiar with it. Among those who are at least somewhat familiar, the grocery item most associated with the E. coli outbreak is prepackaged, fresh spinach sold in a bag or plastic box (83%). Other items mentioned include fresh spinach sold loose (40%), prepackaged fresh lettuce (30%) and fresh lettuce sold by the head (19%).

"Food safety has been a growing concern for the past 10 years, and it continues to be an important issue to consumers," commented Parker Hurlburt, Vice President of Harris Interactive's Consumer Packaged Goods Research Practice. "Although the E. coli outbreak was due only to affected spinach, many consumers took a 'better safe than sorry' attitude and stopped eating lettuce as well. We also have seen this concern translate itself into increased interest in organic and locally grown foods."

About two-in-five of those who associated a particular item with the outbreak say they stopped eating the item (prepackaged spinach 42%, prepackaged lettuce 41%, lettuce sold by the head 41%, and loose spinach 39%).


This survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive within the United States between October 10 and 12, 2006, among 2,357 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

Results tables for specific questions and more on the methodology are online.

Harris Interactive's Consumer Packaged Goods Research Practice provides knowledge-driven consulting services throughout the lifecycles of our clients' brands, products and services. Our breadth of knowledge enables us to help our clients understand the drivers of human decision making in order to better meet consumer needs, resulting in profitable growth.

Harris Interactive is the 12th largest and fastest-growing market research firm in the world. The company provides research-driven insights and strategic advice to help its clients make more confident decisions which lead to measurable and enduring improvements in performance.

SOURCE: Harris Interactive via PR Newswire.