Survey: Mercury concerns affluent Americans


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
November 2, 2009

Most affluent Americans are concerned about the mercury content of the fish they eat, according to a recent survey.

Designed by Context Marketing of San Francisco and conducted by MRops of Doylestown, Pa., the survey asked 600 consumers between the ages of 20 and 64 which food-packaging claims imply that food is healthier, safer and ethically produced.

“Low-mercury seafood” topped the list, with 61 percent of respondents saying the claim was “important” or “very important” for them to see on food packaging. “No pesticides” came next at 60 percent, followed by “no artificial hormones” at 58 percent, “produced in the USA” at 57 percent, “no antibiotics” at 51 percent and “natural” and “locally grown” at 50 percent each.

The survey also found that most affluent Americans will pay more for quality food; 60 percent of respondents said they would pay up to 10 percent more for food labeled as healthier, safer and ethically produced, while 12 percent said they would pay 11 to 20 percent more and 2 percent said they would pay more than 21 percent more.

The online survey was conducted in September. A majority of the respondents live in metropolitan areas and are employed (89 percent), educated (92 percent had attended college) and affluent (50 percent had household income of USD 75,000 or more).

Micro Analytical Systems (MASI) cited the survey in a press release on Tuesday to promote its Safe Harbor mercury-testing program and accompanying label. The San Rafael, Calif., company has developed technology and equipment that measures the level of mercury found in seafood in a timely and cost-effective manner.

“While we all know the health benefits of eating seafood, consumers are becoming increasingly wary of the risks associated with mercury-tainted fish,” said Malcolm Wittenberg, CEO of MASI. “Unequivocally, we know that fish is not being screened for mercury before being sold to consumers despite FDA claims, which is why we are working with a growing number of North American foodservice organizations, retailers and restaurants to do so.”

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