The top three food safety issues of concern for UK citizens are food hygiene when eating out (36%), the use of additives in food (26%), and food poisoning from bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli (26%), according to the Food Standards Agency (FSA). Those are among the findings of the FSA's latest Biannual Public Attitudes Tracker survey, conducted in November 2013 and published this week.
When asked about wider food issues, survey respondents indicated their top three issues of concern were food prices (60%), food waste (50%), and the amount of salt in food (44%). Other findings of the study, as reported by FSA, include:
Concern about food safety in UK food outlets
Almost half (49%) of the respondents to this wave of the study (Wave 7) reported concern about food safety in UK restaurants, pubs, cafes and takeaways. Concern decreased three percentage points compared to the previous wave (52%, May 2013), but there is no overall trend across waves. The proportion of respondents concerned about food safety in shops and supermarkets (46%) has decreased six percentage points when compared with Wave 6 (52%), but is consistent with all other waves.
Awareness of the FSA
Awareness of the Food Standards Agency remains at 82% in this wave of the tracker. Of those who reported being aware of the FSA, 58% said they trusted the FSA to do its job. Only 8% said they distrusted the FSA to do its job. Levels of trust fell in Wave 6 (May 2013) when compared to all previous waves, and have remained at this level in this wave.
Awareness of hygiene standards
More than four-fifths of respondents (82%) said they were aware of the hygiene standards in places they eat out at or buy food from. In this wave, 40% of these respondents reported hygiene certificates and 25% reported hygiene stickers, as ways of knowing about hygiene standards.
The proportions of respondents reporting hygiene certificates and hygiene stickers progressively increased between Wave 1 (29% and 12% respectively, Nov 2010) and Wave 6 (40% and 25% respectively, May 2013) and have remained steady in this wave.
Food Hygiene Rating and Information Schemes
Awareness of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) has continued to increase in this wave. More than a third (37%) of respondents in England, Wales and Northern Ireland reported being aware of the FHRS (compared to 21-34%, between November 2011 and May 2013). The proportion of respondents in England, Wales and Northern Ireland reporting that they had seen an FHRS certificate and/or sticker (66%) in this wave has also increased compared to previous waves (50%, Nov 2010 and 57%, May 2013).
Awareness of Food Hygiene Information Scheme (FHIS) was mixed, with 9% of respondents in Scotland report being aware of the FHIS consistent with the previous three waves. However, 50% said they had seen the FHIS certificate and/or sticker before, an increase of 18 percentage points compared to Wave 5 (32% in Nov 2012).
Fieldwork for this wave took place in November 2013 and a representative sample of 2,509 adults in the UK was interviewed via a consumer face-to-face omnibus survey conducted by TNS Global, an insight, information, and consultancy company. This is the seventh wave of the biannual tracker, which started in November 2010.