Encouraging news for European food manufacturers - apparently two thirds of European consumers think that their food is safe. These are the findings of a recent survey from European organisation, the Confederation of the Food and Drink Industries of the EU (CIAA).
The results of the pan-European survey were presented at the third European Food Summit held in Brussels on April 11-12 under the aegis of the CIAA. Approximately 300 representatives from the food sector and EU institutions participated in the European Food Summit. According to a statement by the CIAA , prominent figures from food and drink companies, representatives from other food chain links (farmers, retailers and consumers) and the European Commissioners David Byrne and Franz Fischler, insisted on the importance of active co-operation between all stakeholders of the food chain in order to meet consumer needs with respect to the quality of foodstuffs and to reinforce their confidence.
The survey presented at the European Food Summit covered three main themes: risk perception, consumer's attitudes towards GMOs and the main sources of consumer information. The survey was conducted on a representative sample of 1000 people in five countries (United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands).
The CIAA reports that regarding factors that might affect health, Europeans remain concerned about food safety but they are generally more worried by the impact of smoking, pollution and stress. With regards to food safety 60 per cent of Europeans are convinced that their food is safe. The most satisfied are the British and the Dutch consumers.
European reticence to genetically modified organisms was clearly highlighted by the report, with the majority of Europeans refusing to buy a product if they discovered it contained GMOs. Apparently British and Dutch consumers are less opposed than others. A ray of light for GMO supporters shone when the CIAA reported that if a GMO product presented a clear benefit for consumers, the attitude of Europeans might change, especially in Great Britain, the Netherlands and France.
Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Chief Executive Officer of Nestlé said: "Food quality starts with the raw material and, in the case of live-stock, with feed, and ends on the fork of the consumer.
It is not enough if one of the operators in the food chain works up to the highest quality standards if the suppliers up front or the clients downstream don't act accordingly."
Commissioners Byrne and Fischler insisted at the Summit on the necessity to reinforce quality rather than quantity. The food and drink industry recalled the key role to be played by the future European Food Safety Authority. As far as the Common Agricultural Policy is concerned, the CIAA reported, it must allow the European food and drink industry, which is the leading processor of Community agricultural produce to buy supplies at competitive prices whilst at the same time assuring the safety of agricultural production.
With €600 billion in production value, the food and drink industry is the leading industry sector in Europe. It consists of 26,000 companies and 2.6 million employees.