MSU Food Literacy and Engagement Poll: Wave III

The third wave of the Michigan State University Food Literacy and Engagement Poll looks at consumer attitudes toward food labels.

Numbers listed reflect percentages. 

When shopping for food, how often do you search the label for information regarding each of the following ingredients:


Always 22 
Sometimes  27
Rarely 20
Never 31




Always 14 
Sometimes  22
Rarely 21
Never 43




Always 27 
Sometimes  38
Rarely 16
Never 19




Always 13 
Sometimes  22
Rarely 21
Never 44



Low sodium 

Always 23 
Sometimes  36
Rarely 20
Never 21



Location of production

Always 17 
Sometimes  33
Rarely 22
Never 38




Always 32 
Sometimes  26
Rarely 16
Never 26




Always 17 
Sometimes  23
Rarely 22
Never 38




Always 21 
Sometimes  32
Rarely 22
Never 25



How often do you purchase organic foods?

Always 13 
Sometimes  46
Rarely 25
Never 16



Why do you buy organic foods?

Respondents were allowed to choose more than one option.

To avoid pesticides 36
To avoid GMOs  27
Organic food is healthier  41
Organic food is safer 33
Organic food is more natural  40
Better for the environment 26 


Animal welfare     13 
My doctor suggests it  9
Friends/family eat organic .    15
Support local farmers 27
Not sure 11
Other 5



Why do you not buy organic foods? 

Respondents were allowed to choose more than one option.

Too expensive  57 
Not healthier than any other foods  26
Not safer than any other foods 22
Never considered it/don't pay attention  26
Better for the environment 1
Animal welfare 1
Not sure 16
Other 2



Do you take steps to reduce the amount of food waste at home? 

Yes  86 
No 14



Why do you not take steps to reduce food waste at home? 

Respondents were allowed to choose more than one option.

I am not familiar with the term "food waste" 
I do not know how to reduce food waste 22
I am not concerned about food waste 18
I do not waste food at home 38 
I do not have time 10
Prefer not to answer 12



Please indicate how much you agree or disagree with the following statement: All food with deoxyribonucleic acid should be labeled.

Agree somewhat or completely 49 
Neither agree nor disagree 43
Disagree somewhat or completely  8



Using a 1 to 5 scale, where 1 is not at all influential and 5 is very influential, how influential are food labels in your buying decisions? 

Influential or very influential (4-5)  60 
Some influence (3) 27
No influence (1-2) 13



Using a 1 to 5 scale, where 1 is much lower than an average person and 5 is much higher than an average person, how would you rank your understanding of the global food system? 

Higher than average (4-5)  37 
Average (3) 42
Lower than average (1-2) 21



How often do you seek information about where your food was grown and how it was produced? 

Every day 10 
At least once a week  20
At least once a month  19
Less than once a month  28
Never 23



Using a 1 to 5 scale, where 1 is do not trust at all and 5 is completely trust, how much do you trust the following individuals or groups when it comes to the health and safety of food?

Scientists employed by government agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 

Trust  (4-5) 45 
Neither trust nor distrust (3)  31
Distrust (1-2)  24



Scientists employed by private corporations

Trust(4-5)  30 
Neither trust nor distrust (3)  36
Distrust (1-2)  34



Scientists employed by academic institutions

Trust (4-5) 52 
Neither trust nor distrust (3) 32
Distrust (1-2)  16



When it comes to nutrition and health, where do you turn most frequently for information?

Friends/family 17 
My doctor 32
Books  6
Magazines (i.e. "Dr. Oz," "Oprah")  4
Blogs 5
Television 6
Social media 12
Scientific journals/academic research  18




The Michigan State University Food Literacy and Engagement Poll was conducted online between August 6-9, 2018 among 2,058 U.S. residents 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. The poll is administered by Toluna, NA, a leader in online research that manages one of the world’s largest internet-based research panels with more than 4.5 million registered and active users.

All surveys are subject to multiple sources of error. Most of these errors are often impossible to quantify. In addition to sampling error, these errors include coverage error, non-response error, interviewer bias when appropriate, and the error associated with how a question is asked or the response options given. The overall margin of error would be 3 percentage points at the widest interval.

© 2018 Michigan State University

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