More than a quarter of those surveyed (26%) said they were concerned about food additives, while the same proportion said they were worried about food poisoning – and when unprompted, the use of food additives was the top food safety worry, cited by 7% of those surveyed.
The poll qualified the term ‘food additives’ with the expression ‘such as preservatives and colouring’, and found women and consumers aged 50-65 were most likely to say they were worried about additives. Meanwhile, only 13% of younger consumers aged 16-25 said they were worried about additives, compared to 20-36% among other demographics.
However, the biggest concern – taking both unprompted and prompted responses into account – was food hygiene when eating out, cited by 37% of respondents, more than twice the proportion who said they were concerned about food hygiene in the home (15%).
When it came to spontaneous responses about their biggest food concerns in general, sugar, fat and salt content were all named by 9% of respondents. Concern about saturated fat was slightly lower at 7%, while the number one concern was food prices, named by 18% of consumers.
When prompted, the top three issues of general concern were food prices (60%), food waste (50%), and the amount of salt in food (44%). Concern about food waste has increased by five to eight percentage points compared to the FSA’s previous attitude tracker surveys, which have been carried out twice a year since November 2010.
The survey was conducted from November 6 to November 17 with a representative sample of 2,509 UK adults.
The full results are available online here (pdf).