The issue has come above price for the past three years in terms of wider concerns flagged up by the survey. “Concern about sugar has risen more than any other concern in this survey, from 39% [in 2010] to 55%,” the FSA stated in the latest set of survey results for the six months to May.
Among specific food safety concerns, food hygiene when eating out was the number one concern raised by the survey.
Other top concerns
The other top concerns were chemical pollution of food from the surrounding environment; food additives; and food poisoning, in that order.
Aside from the amount of sugar in food, food waste, food prices and animal welfare were identified as wider issues worrying shoppers.
A total of 45% of respondents reported concern about food safety in restaurants, pubs, cafés and takeaways. A total of 82% said they were aware of hygiene standards in places they ate out at or where they bought food.
The most commonly reported ways of knowing about hygiene standards in foodservice outlets were via hygiene stickers or certificates and the general appearance of the premises.
A total of 15% of respondents were aware of specific rules about allergens and 11% reported having a food intolerance and/or allergy themselves.
Roughly three-quarters of shoppers reported feeling confident enough to ask staff at food outlets for more information about ingredients in food because of concerns about possible allergens or food intolerances.
More than four in ten respondents reported concern about food safety in UK shops and supermarkets as well.
Salmonella and E.coli were by far the most commonly known types of food poisoning highlighted by survey respondents. Raw chicken or turkey were perceived as being the most likely culprits, followed by shellfish, reheated take-away food, and eggs. Unwashed vegetables or salad were cited as the next most likely cause by 29% of respondents.
Just 28% said they always trusted that food was what it said it was on labels and menus. A similar number said they trusted the authenticity of ingredients, the origin and the quality of food. More than four in ten trusted that people who produced and sold food had their best interests at heart.
Of those who didn’t always trust labels or menus, one in ten did not trust the ingredient information to be completely correct. A total of 5% cited the horsemeat scandal of five years ago, indicating consumers had long memories about the issue.
For full survey results, click here.
For a write-up of Food Manufacture’s survey of food and drink industry professionals’ food safety concerns, read this article.