Survey: most shoppers wary about food safety

12 February 1999

Survey: most shoppers wary about food safety

ALMOST 60% of consumers are unsure whether the food they buy is safe to eat, according to a survey published on Wednesday.

The survey, by research firm Mintel International, also found that more than three-quarters of shoppers want genetically modified food to be labelled.

Respondents were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with a statement designed to establish overall levels of confidence.

Almost six out of ten supported the notion that "you can never be sure that the food you buy nowadays is safe to eat".

The most frequently mentioned food safety issue was that of pesticide residues found in fruit and vegetables.

Beef safety, which was cited by 37% of consumers, was also near the top of the food safety agenda.

But the fact that BSE was not most mentioned suggests that public confidence in beef has increased somewhat since the 1996 industry collapse, say the reports authors.

GM foods were of concern to 36% of consumers and 78% of consumers agreed that GM foods should be clearly labelled.

In Mintels view, the publics attitude to food was significantly coloured by the BSE crisis and scares.

"Consumer confidence will continue to be volatile and will remain driven by the latest big food safety scare, said James McCoy, the reports editor

"The issue of genetically modified foods will continue to hit the headlines as we head towards the millennium and is likely to become even more high profile.

"It remains to be seen whether the current concerns of consumers and lobby groups will deter full-scale implementation." &#42

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