Almost half of US mothers worry about the foods their families eat following the peanut salmonella outbreak that has sickened over 600 people, according to a recent survey.

The online survey by public relations company Burson-Marsteller and Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates showed that 23% of consumers questioned said the food scare would change their long-term purchasing habits.

“Through all of this change, consumer expectations for quick and specific information have never been higher. They want as much information as possible when a problem is discovered, they expect to be told the facts immediately, and a majority of Americans think the food safety system is broken,” said Bill Zucker, managing director of Burson-Marsteller.

Of the 501 consumers surveyed, 93% said they had recently seen or heard about food safety issues and recalls, while 68% said they thought the number of instances of food contamination had increased over the past several years.

Despite this, around 87% thought that the US had one of the best food safety systems in the world.

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US snack maker Lance has continued to campaign throughout the scare in order to let consumers know its peanut-based products are safe in light of the recall of hundreds of products. It has set up a website specifically to “clarify consumer confusion” about the safety of its peanut products, which it insists are not part of the recall.

Meanwhile, documents released by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on Wednesday (11 February) showed that Stewart Parnell, president of Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), the company at the centre of the salmonella scare, had falsified documents and pressured regulators as he riled against the cost and delay the contamination was causing his company.

To date, some 637 people in 43 US states have been infected with the outbreak strain of salmonella, which has been traced to a PCA plant in Blakely. Nine deaths have also been linked to the outbreak, while one person has also been taken ill in Canada.