Canadians know little about their food, study says

by | Oct 2, 2012 | News

Farmers Feed Cities conducted its Informed Food Philosophy Study to find out more about food choices made by Canadian consumers. PHOTO BY ALEX LAMBERT

By Alex Lambert

A new study has found that despite the fact that 97 per cent of Canadians rank food choices as important to them, consumers still have many misconceptions about what they eat.

The study, released by agriculture awareness group Farmers Feed Cities, was conducted to find out more about what Canadian consumers’ are eating and why.

“We wanted to learn more about Canadians’ food purchase decisions, and what’s leading them to make these decisions,” Jenny Van Rooy, Farmers Feed Cities Campaign Coordinator, told Humber News.

Information in what’s known as the Informed Food Philosophy Study focuses on what the organization calls two main areas: “hot food issues” such as organic foods, buying local and genetically-modified food, and “farm-related misconceptions.”

“Consumers are connected with farms three times a day whether they like it or not and the amount that they know about it is astonishingly minute,” said Van Rooy.

Free run versus free range

One common misconception among Canadian consumers outlined in the release involves eggs.

Canadians tend to confuse free run eggs with free range, assuming chickens can roam around outside, which is only true for free range, the report says.

Another place where the report found a lack of knowledge by Canadian consumers is regarding food inspections. Only 66 per cent surveyed said they were aware that meat and milk products sold in Canada must first pass inspection.

Nearly 70 per cent said they believe that livestock contain large amounts of artificial hormones, vaccines and antibiotics, even though the Canadian Food Inspection Agency only accepts the use of these compounds while animals are sick, and tests food for these substances before they can be sold in Canada.

When it comes to genetically-modified foods, only 41 per cent of respondents believe these foods are safe to consume, despite the fact that like all other food sold in Canada, these products must meet food inspection standards.

Knowledge isn’t there

But among many Canadians, the knowledge of food inspection just isn’t there.

According to a study prepared for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, only 46 per cent of those surveyed knew that foods sold in Canada must pass inspection, with 8 per cent unsure.

What’s more, 18 per cent of those surveyed said they had not heard of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency before being surveyed, with 1 per cent of respondents unsure if they’ve previously heard of it.