Meat Industry Discovers Consumers' Trust Has Eroded

The meat and poultry industries have learned that if you poison your customers enough times, they’ll eventually start losing trust in you—although, oddly, they won’t change their purchasing habits. That’s the takeaway from a study carried out by Meatingplace.com (snicker) and “its sister publication POULTRY” (ha ha WHERE’S CHRIS HANSON). However, no description of the study is provided other than that Zoomerang.com was used, so we’re not sure if the results are at all meaningful. We’re just glad the meat industry is starting to notice something’s wrong.

Sadly, the real intent of the study was to measure how much of an impact “the media’s relentless coverage of recalls” have had on customer trust, and not on topics like, oh say, whether mixing batches of meat is a sound business decision.

Although the majority of consumers remain confident in the overall safety of the U.S. meat supply, 34 percent said they are less confident than they were five years ago.

Only 35 percent of consumers surveyed agree that the U.S. government is doing everything it can to ensure meat product safety.

36 percent of consumers said they worry about serving fresh ground beef or hamburgers to their families due to concerns about E. coli contamination. The majority, however, indicated that such concern has yet to impact purchase habits or even intent.

“Survey Suggests Fraying Consumer Confidence In Meat Safety “
(Photo: Getty)

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  1. Amelie says:

    Contrary to what they say, I have changed my habits. I only buy beef from a local butcher and organic or Smart Chicken.

    One of the upscale groceries here started selling the CO2 treated meat, and I just wrote them to let them know that I won’t be buying anymore of their meat products.

  2. karmaghost says:

    Well, it’s probably because they don’t distrust them enough to change their habits. Eventually, there will be a level of distrust that will start eroding the purchasing of meat.

  3. Don Roberto says:

    Buy from a local butchery you can trust, and even grind your own (if you like ground beef).

  4. Soldier_CLE says that Hideo Kojima has to make MGS till the day he dies! says:

    @zouxou:

    I agree and also do the same. Luckilly here in Cleveland, Ohio, we have not one,but TWO European-styled markets, conveniently named the West Side market, and East Side Market.

    Anything (within reason) that I want, I simply get there, and best of all, I get to wheel and deal with them!

    The whole CO2 meat process got me to stop buying from the local grocers as soon as I’ve heard about it. For that matter, it were more than enough for me to also buy my produce at those two afforementioned markets.

  5. marsneedsrabbits says:

    Meat Industry Discovers Consumers’ Trust Has Eroded

    If this was Fark, you’d need to Obvious tag.
    As it is, the meat industry needs to learn the next step after “Consumer Loses Trust in the Safety of Our Product”.
    It’s “Consumer Finds Alternate Protein Sources & Consumes Less Meat” if anyone is keeping score at home.

    Its getting increasingly difficult to be enthusiastic about feeding my kids stuff that may make them puke blood from E Coli.

  6. shiftless says:

    You can’t go cheap on the meat. It is disgusting to see the cuts that some people eat.

  7. @shiftless: hahaha, people are worried about the meat at grocery stores? it’s gourmet compared to whatever that wafer is that they put in big macs! sometimes it’s hard to believe we’re in a first-world country…

  8. carpediemcls says:

    This is why I hunt, process, and eat my own wild game…elk, venison, grouse…the more meat is handled the more chance it has in being exposed to harmful bacteria. You can’t tell the difference between a good venison burger and good quality beef.

  9. Monkey4Sale says:

    Support local farms it so much easier, and it helps the community.

  10. goodkitty says:

    Hey, this is America, land of the Guaranteed Endless Corporate Profits. You don’t even have to work anymore if you’re connected enough, just get enough of a bank account together to offshore everything, lobby government to require people give you money, and you’re set.

    Why *should* meat grinders/packers even care about the quality of their stuff. What are you going to do America, have a mass uprising or something? Go back to watching “Bionic Woman” and eating your celery, and work some more to fund our Wars For Freedom and subsidies for these poor underfunded megacorps. Oh, and buy some more music and watch more movies–reading a book is Intellectual Piracy.

    (Was that too much? :p)

  11. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    @goodkitty: You said it all.

  12. pureobscure says:

    I don’t actually eat food anymore. I don’t fly, drive in my car, or even venture outdoors at all. I don’t allow people to visit either; think of all the germs! It’s just not worth the risk.

  13. Electroqueen says:

    I am losing trust in the meat companies. I should be able to eat raw or red meat without fear of E. Coli contamination. Who needs to cook the meat until it’s “well done” anyway? Rare is the way to go.

  14. csdiego says:

    I haven’t bought ground beef in the past six months or so, and it used to be a regular part of my diet. The next time I need ground beef, I plan to grind it myself with the grinder attachment for my mixer. When I do buy meat I tend to buy it from the lady at my local farmers’ market. I figure they have a better shot at quality control.

  15. poodlepoodle says:

    I don’t eat ground meat unless I ground it myself. Years ago I had a terrible bought of food poisoning. I was sick for 2 weeks and even after that I had muscle cramping.

    I buy my meat from a butcher who gets his meat from a local farm. Each week we talk about what I need and if it requires a special cut he gets it for me in advance.

    Come to think of it I think I need to get them something for Christmas. They’re good people.

  16. karlrove says:

    People are unsure about the safety, yet continue to purchase the product because it’s cheap. Ah, Americans, how I love your ways!

  17. HRHKingFriday says:

    Well, there’s a big enough gap between people who can pay 5 or 10 cents per frozen off-brand patty (which gets recalled) and those who can get fresh natural patties. Honestly, there’s not a lot of options in between. Guess you’re kind of screwed if you’re poor (or gluttonous- its not like you can’t cut back your meat consumption and then go for the fresh stuff)

  18. ExecutorElassus says:

    @zouxou: when I was in Buffalo a couple years back, the local Wegman’s ran a banner campaign for about a month. The banner read:

    “New!! Fresh Irradiated Beef! Taste it now! Take some home today!”

    I’m not sure if the campaign went anywhere. This came out about half a year after all the news articles about how bad irradiation was for beef safety.

  19. johnva says:

    The conclusion I draw from all this is that beef simply isn’t a food that is well-suited to being a mass-produced, cheap, industrial product. If beef producers are competing simply on price alone it seems that there is inadequate room for quality control and safety. The current view of beef as a cheap commodity product encourages them to cut corners, produce beef in larger batches that spread contamination farther, produce beef in faster and more dangerous conditions, etc.

    Instead, beef should be seen as an occasional food that is fairly expensive. It IS a luxury and the enormous industrial supply chain (with an enormous environmental footprint) is the only reason beef is not priced as a luxury item. Just eat less of it (especially less low quality ground beef) and pay for good stuff when you do.

  20. char says:

    Unfortunately, that nice lady who has her grass fed beef butchered is probably using the same squalid facility that el cheapo patties is using. There is a definite lack of slaughter houses in this country that aren’t massive, moving the lines too quickly. Then, once any cow that was processed poorly, covers the machines in ecoli lined shit, which gets to you good consumer.

    We need to fix two things to get good beef to americans, cows that aren’t ecoli breeding grounds, and chop shops that don’t cover the meat in shit.

  21. csdiego says:

    @char: I know what you mean about the problem with slaughterhouses (even if the animals are raised wholesomely, they’ve still got to go through the slaughterhouse with its potential for contamination). But I still figure that, as a small supplier who deals with her customer face-to-face, she has more of an investment in her reputation, and that’s the advantage of buying from her. I don’t know a lot about regulations on beef production, but this farm is so small that they might even be doing their own slaughtering and butchering on site.

  22. emilymarion333 says:

    At our house we mainly eat vegetarian unless we know where the meat came from. My dad raised some pigs this year and butchered them himself (he used to work in a slaughter house when he was young) so I will eat that meat. My roommate killed a deer this year in Montana so that is ok also. Otherwise I do not buy meat at the grocery store.

  23. BugMeNot2 says:

    @csdiego: If I remember correctly what I read in Michael Pollan’s book the Omnivore’s Dilemma, all meat must be slaughtered in government monitored slaughterhouses. This makes it illegal for the small meat producers to do their own slaughtering (raising costs and introducing risks).

    @world-inferno: After the deadly E. coli outbreak nearly put Jack in the Box out of business in 1993, they instituted a rigorous process for checking all meat deliveries to ensure that no tainted beef was used. The big burger chains used their huge purchasing power to force the suppliers to give them the best quality beef. So, believe it or not, McDonalds has the best quality (safest) ground beef.

    (This is by no means an endorsement of fast food! Cook your own burgers folks!)

  24. Musician78 says:

    Weird… I have been on Atkins for almost three months, and have yet to get ill from mean. And I eat steak rarer than rare.

  25. forever_knight says:

    @Musician78: Steak vs. ground beef is like eating on fine china vs. a shit-lined shoe.

    I have changed my ways. I avoid ground beef as much as possible. I have switched to ground turkey and buffalo patties. Hopefully, that’s a good move…

  26. ancientsociety says:

    @BugMeNot2: “…all meat must be slaughtered in government monitored slaughterhouses. This makes it illegal for the small meat producers to do their own slaughtering (raising costs and introducing risks).”

    Not ALL meat. As a farmer or rancher, you can process a few dozen animals on site per year. The problem though is, if you want to own a herd and process say 50 head, you are required to either A) ship it to the same CAFOs and mega-plants as the large corporations or B) pay out hundreds of thousands of dollars to build your own processing plant (and it costs so much because of all the USDA/FDA’s insance regulations – i.e. meat inspectors have to have their own private restroom).

    And, if the gov’t and corporations have their way, farmers/ranchers will not be able to slaughter ANY animals onsite under NAIS (National Animal ID System). It’s being pushed by the corporations as a way to “ensure food safety” but it will really only make sure that all food is processed by a few multinationals (who are NOT transparent in their processing methods).

    [animalid.aphis.usda.gov]
    [en.wikipedia.org]

  27. lincolnparadox says:

    @Musician78: It’s ground beef that you have to worry about. If you buy fresh, whole cuts and your butcher has followed health code, then the exterior of the meat is clean. When meat is ground off-site, you don’t know what went into the grind (ie. poop).

    With Atkins, eventually you’re going to want to eat less and less red meat and try to focus on poultry and fish. You’ll hit a plateau for weight loss and the only way to beat it is to exercise a lot more, or to cut fats.

  28. Musician78 says:

    I lost 32 pounds… but I think I am at that plateau. Haven’t lost anything in a week. Still quite anal with the lack of carbs. Around 20 a day. I started liftin about a month ago. Don’t know if I am gaining muscle weight and losing fat weight at the same time. Maybe that is why I seem to have “bottomed out”.

    Anyway. Red meat owns.

  29. The meat and poultry industries have learned that if you poison your customers enough times, they’ll eventually start losing trust in you-although, oddly, they won’t change their purchasing habits.

    Anyone who’s poor or otherwise on a tight budget will probably need for this to happen close to home before spending more money on alternatives. A lot of the recalls seemed to either miss my state, were in stores I never visit, or were recalls of products I don’t buy. I bet a lot people who haven’t been directly hit by a recall feel like the places they’re getting their beef from are still safe.

    Furthermore, I bet the questions were asked in such a way as to mask any changes in consumers’ habits.

    For example, I don’t buy ground beef anymore but I haven’t stopped buying beef altogether. The survey probably didn’t ask whether you still bought X type of meat, just whether you bought meat at all. People who only stopped buying ground beef or only stopped shopping at certain places probably show up as not having changed their shopping habits at all in the survey.

  30. Trai_Dep says:

    I’m hoping to see, “Now! Fecal-Fortified!” stickers on the packages of beef.

  31. mmmmna says:

    You worry about ‘Fecal – Fortified Beef’? Try researching FDA limits for commercial peanut butters. Mouse feces are allowed, to a certain maximum percentage of the total product. And you’ve been living well for decades.

    Still, if you cook your beef with the proper technique and cook it to the proper temperatures, does a minimal amounts of e. coli remain an issue?