Clive Beddall, New York British food was the toast of Broadway this week ­ but many North American consumers still harbour safety fears following graphic tv pictures during the fmd crisis. Nearly 300 retailers, wholesalers, marketing and media executives packed the British Consulate in Manhattan on Monday for the first Foodie Awards staged by Food from Britain to recognise the excellence of UK products and their trade support in the US. FFB chairman Gordon Summerfield told guests: "Events of recent months, which have seen the suspension of meat exports, threats of trade reprisals, economic slowdown in key markets, and exchange rate fluctuations, has made life especially challenging for our exporters. This event is an appropriate celebration of their efforts." But while the awards were hailed by Brits and New Yorkers as one of the best celebrations of British food and drink on the other side of the Atlantic, it was clear from a straw poll by The Grocer that many confused US consumers are still avoiding our foods. As one importer put it:"Dramatic tv pictures have shattered many Americans' love affair with British food." As reported after an earlier poll by The Grocer in New Jersey in April, UK exporters have anecdotal evidence of shopper panic in the US. And although the US media coverage of FMD has been replaced by more dramatic domestic issues, there is still evidence of widespread consumer concern. On Tuesday we interviewed morning commuters in New York's Times Square. While all expressed doubt about the safety of many British foods, not just meat, it was clear there was still widescale misunderstanding of the issues of FMD and BSE. Several commuters also blamed the US administration in Washington for not sending out a clear message on FMD. Construction worker Ken Lodini was typical: "No one seems to know if humans can catch FMD, so I'm being careful not to eat anything British. I wanted to holiday in Britain this year, but I've put that off." Mike Consentino, a young worker at the new York branch of the Church of Scientology, said: "I will never eat British meat or hamburgers." Yellow Cab driver Mike Sordini said: "I don't know the difference between FMD and BSE so I'm playing safe and staying away from British dairy and meat products." Accountant Matt Carballal said: "My parents took a holiday in Bermuda, but they would not eat any of the meat, in case it was British." And another commuter, who described himself as a "City type" said: " I won't even eat your marmalade until you get that hoof and mouth thing sorted." But Waiter Edwin Minchon said: "We Americans have got short memories. The terrible tv pictures of animals burning will be forgotten in a few months." - See page 18. {{NEWS }}