Consumer unease about pesticides waning – survey

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cent Food standards agency Food safety

Consumer concern about pesticides, feed for livestock and antibiotics/animal medicines in food have decreased, claims a new survey from the UK food safety agency.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published the results of its most recent mini survey, which it conducts on a quarterly basis to monitor changes in consumer attitudes of key food issues and trust in the FSA.

The fieldwork period for this wave of research was 3-7 December last year, said the FSA, with a representative sample of 2,097 adults in the UK interviewed.

The results, according to the agency, show that anxiety about pesticides in food is at its lowest level since tracking began.

In addition, the FSA claims that its analysis of consumer attitudes indicates that worry about food safety issues has been gradually decreasing since March last year.

BSE and GM fears

The study also shows that concern about BSE has declined over time from 57 per cent at the beginning of tracking to under a quarter (24 per cent), while concern about GM has decreased since June 2008 (from 30 per cent) following gradual increases in the previous three waves.

The FSA said the study revealed that the proportion of respondents who are anxious about the conditions in which animals are raised has decreased since March 2008 (40 per cent) to a similar level seen in December 2007 (35 per cent).

Concern about bird flu has also declined and is now at its lowest level, while the percentage of consumers mentioning the way animals are slaughtered not changing significantly over time, continued the agency.

The FSA said that the level of concern regarding additives has continued to decrease since September last year (when the Southampton study was published), going down a total of 11 percentage points.

Around one in five consumers are concerned about allergies and this has remained fairly stable since September 2003, claims the agency.

Food bugs

Whilst spontaneous concern about food poisoning increased this wave (from 19 per cent to 25 per cent) prompted concern remained stable at 53 per cent, stated the report.

“This is the highest level of spontaneous concern seen since tracking started,”​ said the FSA.

The survey registered that concern about food prices (measured for the first time in Sept last year) also declined this wave from 48 per cent to 40 per cent.

The agency added that the survey results also show that confidence in the food safety measures of all organisations significantly increased from the previous monitoring it conducted in September 2008, with 60 per cent of respondents feeling confident about actions being taken to protect health.

Views sought

Meanwhile, the FSA said that it is extending the length of its consultation on the draft Contaminants in Food Regulations by a further eight weeks to take into account the new provisions of a Commission Regulation coming into force on 2 March 2009 and applying from 1 July 2009.

The European Commissions Standing on the Food Chain and Animal Health has adopted a proposal for a new Commission Regulation setting maximum levels for the presence of coccidiostats or histomonostats in food resulting from the unavoidable carry-over of these substances in non-target feed.

Coccidiostats and histomonostats are feed additives intended to kill or inhibit protozoa.

Related topics Food Safety & Quality

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