IFIC Survey: Public Perceptions of Food Ingredients

Download the survey results here

Do consumers shy away from ingredients that are unfamiliar or have chemical-sounding names? And do they gravitate towards foods with certain ingredients, while avoiding others? A recent IFIC survey of 1,000 Americans explores the public sentiment around ingredients in foods and beverages, why people shop where they do, and what drives purchases when it comes to certain foods.  


  • Six in ten Americans say they usually consider ingredients when choosing foods​ to buy. 
  • Consumers choose where they shop based largely on the quality of foods offered and the price of foods sold. A variety of foods is also a top purchase-driver, while ingredients are less important. 
  • When deciding which foods to purchase, people tend to choose those they consider to be good for them; this consideration outweighs choosing “familiar ingredients.”  
  • Health and safety are the top reasons people avoid certain ingredients.​ 
  • For those who believe some ingredients are unsafe to eat, more than four in ten believe those ingredients will have long-term impacts on their physical health​. 
  • Nearly three in ten assume an unknown, chemical-sounding ingredient is not safe to consume. 
  • When it comes to foods containing naturally occurring compounds that may pose dangers (e.g., arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury), consumers are most concerned about seafood—with baby food a close second. 


One thousand interviews were conducted among adults ages 18+ from May 4th through May 9th, 2023,  and were weighted to ensure proportional results. ​ Totals may not equal 100% due to rounding.​ The Bayesian confidence level for 1,000 interviews is 3.5, which is roughly equivalent to a margin of error of ±3.1 at the 95% confidence level.​​