And the top story was more about the environment.

Zee Krstic
December 19, 2018

If you were to ask anyone about the biggest news in the food industry this year, the sheer amount of recalls, like the recent romaine-fueled E. coli outbreak, might come to mind. But according to a new survey issued by the marketing firm Hunter Public Relations, 51 percent of adults in the United States say that widespread bans of plastic straws made the top of the lists for this year's most memorable food moments.

The survey, which was conducted online between October 25 and October 30 (which may be why romaine isn't on top), asked 1,001 American adults about the food news that had made headlines in the last 12 months. Thirty-five percent of those surveyed said that nutrition news was "very important" to them, which is up from 26 percent in 2017.

From Starbucks to American Airlines, consumers heard announcements from many big brands and chains that promised to eliminate plastic straws from their businesses, bringing lots of attention to an environmental cause. This marks the first time that an environmental issue has led the results of the survey, which the PR agency has published annually since 2003.

The survey mentions that one particular reason this story went viral was due to a widely-shared 2015 video of a team of researchers retrieving a straw stuck in the nose of a sea turtle. In July, Starbucks was one of the first retailers to announce that it would be eliminating single-use plastic straws, working on strawless lids instead. Shortly after, the state of California passed a law that would ban full-service restaurants from serving plastic straws altogether.

Romaine lettuce recalls ranked third on the list, just after Dunkin' Donuts officially changing their name to just "Dunkin'" (they also decided to start marketing to health-conscious shoppers in 2018), which cinched the no. 2 spot.

Victor Protasio

More of the top news stories of 2018:

But how did people consume this news? According to the survey, TV remains the top source, with 45 percent saying they learn by watching television. Social media and websites accounted for 31 percent of responses.

The survey also asked adults if they post images of food—whether ordered at a restaurant or made at home—on their social media accounts. Nearly 47 percent of respondents say they do so.

You won't be surprised to hear that Cooking Light didn't cover some of the stories on the full top-10 list—like the launch of Heinz's Mayochup. But we're posting the full list here (with links to the ones we did cover!) for those who are interested.

The top 10 food news stories of 2018, according to the survey:

  1. Plastic Straw Bans
  2. Dunkin' Donuts Rebrands
  3. Multiple Romaine Lettuce Recalls
  4. Racial Profiling at Starbucks Leads to Employee Education
  5. New Tariffs Affect American Farmers
  6. Grocery Stores Launch Same-Day Online Delivery
  7. The Rise of CBD Products in the Wellness Space
  8. Should Plant-Based Milk Alternatives Actually Be Called "Milk"?
  9. Salmonella Contamination Affects Multiple Popular Snacks Containing Whey
  10. The Launch of Mayochup

We're excited to cover more food news as it affects home cooks and shoppers in 2019. For the latest news from Cooking Light, follow us on social media, and sign up for our newsletters right here.

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