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FSA publish results from biannual Public Attitudes Tracker Survey

by Charlotte Anderson | Mar 04, 2020
The tracker survey monitors changes in consumer attitudes to food-related issues. The FSA accumulates responses consumers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Food issues of concern

The top food safety issues of concern for those surveyed were:

  • Chemicals from the environment, such as lead, in food (32%)
  • Food hygiene when eating out (31%)
  • The use of pesticides to grow food (31%)
  • Food poisoning (28%)

The top wider food issues of concern were:

  • Food waste (57%)
  • The amount of sugar in food (53%)
  • Animal welfare (50%)
  • Food prices (44%)
  • The amount of salt in food (42%)

Awareness of food poisoning  

Awareness of different types of food poisoning has gradually increased in the last two years. While awareness of salmonella (now 92%) and e-coli (86%) were already relatively high, awareness of norovirus (60%) and listeria (61%) have increased by eight and 15 percentage points since November 2017. 

Concern about food safety in UK food outlets

45% of respondents reported concern about food safety in UK restaurants, pubs, cafes and takeaways. 40% of respondents reported concern about food safety in UK shops and supermarkets. Reported concern has continued to decrease slightly over time, indicating a general decline in concern about food safety in UK food outlets.

What does this information tell us about public attitudes towards food and eating out?

 The public are increasingly taking an interest in food safety, and with good reason. The spate of tragic and ultimately, avoidable deaths as the result of undeclared allergens have brought food safety into the headlines and with it, to the forefront of people’s minds.

The results from the public attitudes tracker survey in May 2019 found that the public’s use of hygiene stickers has jumped to 66% compared to 60% in the previous wave from November 2018.

85% of respondents reported being aware of the hygiene standards in places they eat out at or buy food from.

Now more than ever, it’s vital for businesses to not only ensure that all staff are trained in food safety at a level that’s appropriate to their position within the business, but also that they are trained on how to deal with allergen enquiries, and are asking customers the right questions.

We also know that if your business doesn’t look appealing from the outside, then customers aren’t likely to give you the benefit of the doubt; “the most commonly reported ways of knowing about hygiene standards were…general appearance of the premises (61%).” Curb appeal counts for a lot and shouldn’t be underestimated. 

What’s more, the physical condition of the premises and facilities of a building, i.e. whether it is properly laid out, has sufficient lighting, adequate ventilation and pest control are all assessed by an environmental health officer when carrying out an inspection.

With the existence of food delivery services just as Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber Eats, all of whom are thriving, it’s never been easier for a customer to go to a competitor, which means it’s vital that food operators tick all the boxes. An increasingly perceptive public are watching the food industry closer than ever before.





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