Food Policy Splits Along Party Lines

FoodMinds' third "Food Temperance in America" survey found that when it comes to food policy issues, there are clear party lines between Democrats and Republicans.

CHICAGO (PRNewswire) — When it comes to food policy issues, there are clear party lines between Democrats and Republicans.  FoodMinds' third "Food Temperance in America" survey found that 75 percent of Democrats think more time should be spent on food policy topics within presidential debates and in overall discussions about government policies, while only 39 percent of Republicans think so.

"While there is some common ground between Republicans and Democrats on the importance of ensuring food safety and stabilizing food prices, they notably disagree on the importance of critical food policy issues such as hunger, nutrition education, and the production and quality of foods served in schools," said Susan Pitman, MA, RD, FoodMinds partner. "It's clear political ideology determines the way Americans think about government intervention when it comes to food-related policies."

The "Food Temperance in America" survey tracks opinions on food policy topics among registered voters and Opinion Leader Shoppers, a group of politically aware and socially active consumers. The results are being presented at the Consumer Federation of America's Food Policy Conference today by Ms. Pitman during the "Election 2012 - Voter Attitudes on Food and Nutrition Issues" panel.

Democrats and Republicans Disagree on the Importance of Food-Related Issues Democrats Republicans Believe It's Very Important to:

  • 74% (D) 57% (R) Solve hunger in America
  • 68% (D) 46% (R) Improve the nutritional quality of food in schools
  • 60% (D) 37% (R) Educate Americans on healthy food choices and eating behaviors
  • 52% (D) 29% (R) Reform agriculture production

(% indicating very important on a three-point scale: very important, important, not at all important)

More Democrats Strongly Favor Uncle Sam Involvement in Food-Focused Education and Policy

  • 54% (D) 38% (R) Support labeling of foods that are genetically modified or engineered
  • 45% (D) 28% (R) Want the government to define the production processes and ingredients that qualify a food product as "natural"
  • 37% (D) 18% (R) Favor government-sponsored nutrition education programs that more overtly identify "bad foods" to be avoided
  • 31% (D) 17% (R) Favor new laws and regulations that prevent food companies from using health and nutrition claims on food packaging and advertising
  • 27% (D) 14% (R) Want the government to tax soft drinks and other foods and beverages that are high in sugar and calories, but low in beneficial nutrients

(% indicating strongly favor on a four-point scale: strongly favor, favor, oppose, strongly oppose)

Across party lines, the survey found Opinion Leader Shoppers are overwhelmingly aware of and engaged in food and health issues and policy reform. For example, 98 percent have heard or read about the increasing number of adults and children who are unhealthy due to obesity, and 82 percent have heard or read about the government re-evaluating what the appropriate levels of fat, sugar, salt and other nutrients should be in food and beverages. And, 88 percent have heard or read that the government is placing stricter rules on the health and nutrition information featured on food packages and in marketing and advertising to children. In addition:

Opinion Leader Shoppers Seek More Positive, Visible Nutrition


  • 84 percent want to be educated about how indulgent foods fit into a healthful diet rather than being told what is restricted.
  • 99 percent find the Nutrition Facts panel on the side or back offood packages useful.

Opinion Leader Shoppers Believe Individuals Ultimately Responsible for Healthy Eating Habits

  • While more Opinion Leader Shoppers now believe others such as the government and food companies are responsible (44 percent) vs. results from the same survey conducted in January 2010 (37 percent), the majority of this group still believes individuals have the primary responsibility (56 percent) for healthful food decisions.
  • More specifically, 67 percent of Republicans, but only 48 percent of Democrats believe primary responsibility falls to the individual.

Opinion Leader Shoppers Trust Friends, Family and Consumer Advocates More

  • 88 percent trust friends and family more than the government (73 percent) for reliable and useful information about health and nutrition.
  • This wave of the survey shows an increased level of trust in First Lady Michelle Obama (58 percent) and in special interest groups (66 percent), suggesting that involved consumers have an increased appreciation for those who lead with a consumer-centric position on nutrition recommendations.

Led by FoodMinds' Strategic Insights team, the third "Food Temperance in America" survey was conducted through MROptimus Omnibus service on April 23, 2012. The sample of 1,000 adults is balanced on age, gender and region of the U.S. Sub-samples of 383 Opinion Leader Shoppers and 883 Registered Voters were screened from the overall adult sample. The MOE is +/- 4% for the Opinion Leader Shoppers, and +/- 3% for the Registered Voters.

Founded in 2006, FoodMinds is a food and nutrition consulting and communications company that harnesses science, public affairs and communications to help its clients tell a better story that makes a difference.

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