23 May 2000
Shoppers seriously distrust food – survey

By FWi staff

SHOPPERS seriously distrust the food they buy, according to a new survey by the Co-op, the countrys largest farmer.

The Co-op, which grows much of the produce it sells, polled customers and found a list of grievances about their purchases.

Parent company CWS, which commissioned the report, has called for more efforts from the food industry to tackle the issue, reports the BBC Radio 4 Farming Today programme.

Shoppers expressed concerns about:

  • Insidious targeting of products which fail to fit in with healthy eating advice;
  • Unnecessary use of chemicals;
  • Disregard of animal rights;
  • Damage to the environment by global food production;
  • Feeding animals the remains of their own species;
  • Careless exploitation of countries and cultures by multinationals; and
  • Deliberate changes in appearance and taste of food.

The CWS survey also revealed that 76% of respondents believed the government does not act in public interest, while 58% levelled the same accusation at scientists.

Wendy Wrigley, general manager of CWS, said the findings of the survey were very worrying as British farming had made great efforts to overcome concerns.

She called on producers and retailers to address this and look at issues not just from legal and scientific standpoints, but the consumers perspective too.

Suzie Leather, deputy chairwoman of the Food Standards Agency, said the regulator was putting consumers first and by doing so would build up a relationship of trust.

Ms Leather pointed out that the agency was independent of government and had a statutory right to publish advice to ministers.