The red meat industry must reintroduce itself to consumers to prove itself a source of innovation and technology that requires a change in approach, said Charlie Arnot, the head of the Center for Food Integrity (CFI). Arnot spoke at the opening session of the Meat Industry Research Conference in Chicago on Tuesday. He unveiled the results of CFI’s third annual survey of “Consumer Trust in the Food System,” a survey of more than 2,000 consumers that CFI conducted in August and September. Showing that the meat industry shares the same values as consumers is four to five times more important in generating trust than demonstrating competence or technical skill, Arnot said. Research with nationwide focus groups shows that consumers are disinterested in the details of food safety issues and science. Arnot called for a new communications strategy. While confidence in the safety of the food system is up overall, consumers have steadily lost confidence in the industry’s assurances that animals are treated properly during the process. “The voices questioning current food system practices are increasing in number, volume and impact,” Arnot said.
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