Food Safety Attitudes: What Did The FSA Discover? The Food Standards Agency (FSA) have released their biannual findings from the general public attitudes tracker. This tracker highlights the behaviour, thoughts and reputation of food safety aspects throughout the year. Whenever there’s a scandal, a legislation change or a news piece surrounding the FSA’s points of interest, it’s going to have a public reaction. Whether good or bad, these reactions will shape and alter the way in which the public perceives food safety.
FSA’s findings are based on 2,150 interviews from a representative sample of adults aged 16 and over across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Fieldwork was carried out between 8th and 26th May 2019, as part of the regular TNS Kantar face-to-face-omnibus survey.
Questions cover several topics of interest for the Agency, including: concern about food safety issues awareness of food hygiene standards awareness of the FSA and its responsibilities trust in the FSA and the food industry confidence in food labelling.
At wave 18, a new set of questions were added to monitor the public’s trust in the FSA as well as the wider food system.
How Aware Are You Of Allergens?
A story that has been popular in the food news throughout 2019 is allergens. Ingredient mis-labelling has led to an overhaul in legislation as well as allergens being a topic that is at the forefront of food safety. From the FSA survey, we can see that 11% of respondents in the survey reported having a food allergy and/or intolerance. However, despite all the recent publicity when asked about awareness of the rule around allergens, only 7% reported that allergens must be displayed on menus and labels. This is a shockingly low number, especially considering there have been high profile stories throughout the news in 2018 / 2019. Encouraging findings reveal an increase in respondents who report feeling confident asking for vital allergen information in a variety of food outlets, with the majority of respondents (81%) feeling secure in asking for such information in a restaurant.
What’s Your Food Safety Score?
One of the FSA’s strategic objectives is to ensure consumers have the information and understanding to make informed choices about where and what they eat. To help monitor performance against this objective, respondents were asked about their awareness of hygiene standards when buying food or eating out. At wave 18, 52% of respondents reported always being aware of the hygiene standards in places they eat out at or buy food from, and a further 33% said they were sometimes aware
Food Poisoning Anyone?
In order to understand awareness of food poisoning, respondents were asked to indicate which foods they believed could be a source of food poisoning. 79% of respondents reported being most likely to get food poisoning from raw chicken or turkey. 56% reported shellfish being a possible source of food poisoning and 49% reported reheated takeaway food as a source. Other suspected sources included eggs (39%), unwashed vegetables or salad (34%), cooked sliced meats (21%) and pre-prepared sandwiches. 15% of respondents reported bread and frozen vegetables as a possible source of food poisoning.
Awareness of sources of food poisoning has remained stable throughout previous waves with little change. Eating At Restaurants
Results from the survey highlight 41% of respondents reported concern about food safety in UK restaurants, pubs, cafes and takeaways, and 37% reported concern about safety in UK shops and supermarkets. This is surprising as many of the food safety stories surrounding food safety regularly stem from well known high street brands and outlets. Reported concern has continued to decrease slightly over time, indicating a general decline in concern about food safety in UK food outlets.
Trust in the FSA
Respondents were also asked to indicate if, and to what extent, they agreed with a variety of statements outlining their level of trust in the FSA and the wider food system. 64% of respondents reported that they trust the FSA to tell the truth in the information they provide (72% among those aware of FSA). 62% of respondents agreed that the food industry is regulated fairly and 44% agreed that they trust that the people who produce and sell food have their best interests at heart. There have been no notable changes versus previous waves.
It’s fair to say that the public is now taking a greater interest in UK food safety standards, meaning there is less margin for error in the food industry. With nearly 80% of the UK public being aware of food hygiene standards when eating out, it’s imperative that you get your standards right first time. Partnering with a food safety company like ourselves is one of the best ways of ensuring you meet your legal obligations as a food business. Our experts are some of the best in the business are available around the clock to coach, advise, audit and help your business reach the highest level of food hygiene.