The public's concern about the safety of food products has risen sharply in recent months, according to a national survey by Consumer Research Corp.

The continuing poll revealed that from last January to September the general level of consumer concern about foods climbed 11 per cent.

The New York-based marketing research firm conducts surveys designed to track consumer awareness of products that are perceived to cause health or safety problems.

Last January only 38 percent of those questioned were worried about the safety hazards associated with food. By June, the percentage increase to 45 percent and in September had reached 49 percent.

Consumer Research cites studies and rulings by the Agriculture Department and the Food and Drug Administration for the increasing concern about food hazards.

Pork was cited as dangerous by 9 percent of the population, while chopped meat drew complaints from 7 percent. Consumers voiced little fear of seafood, fruits, grains and beverages.

In the food ingredient category, sweetners were perceived as most dangerous (13 percent), followed by additives (12 percent), red dye (9 percent) and sodium nitrate (7 percent).

The most frequently cited danger associated with food hazards was cancer, mentioned by 28 percent of those polled. Only 2 percent felt that high cholesterol was a by-product of food-product hazards.

A demographic analysis of the results revealed that those most likely to be concerned with food hazards are typically under 35, have at least a high school diploma, earned in excess of $15,000 a year and have one or two children.