EFSA has released the results of an EU-wide survey which reveals that 2 in 5 Europeans take a personal interest in food safety and only 1 in 5 say that food safety is their main concern when choosing food. For most Europeans it is one of several factors – together with price, taste, nutrition and food origin – that influence their eating habits and food choices.
The 2019 survey was developed together with EU Member States to take on board new perspectives and ensure closer contact with citizens.
Key findings include:
- The most important factors for Europeans when buying food are where the food comes from (53%), cost (51%), food safety (50%) and taste (49%). Nutritional content is slightly less important (44%), while ethics and beliefs rank lowest (19%). Overall, 41% of respondents say that they are ‘personally interested in the topic of food safety’. Just over one fifth of Europeans (22%) say that safety is their main concern when choosing food.
- Two-thirds of Europeans (66%) have changed their consumption after receiving information about a food risk. For 33% the change was permanent; for the other 33% only for a while.
- Changes in consumption behaviour are more common among women, those in the middle age bands, and those with higher levels of education.
- The most frequently cited concerns are ‘antibiotic, hormone or steroid residues in meat’ (44%), ‘pesticide residues in food’ (39%), ‘environmental pollutants in fish, meat or dairy’ (37%) and ‘additives like colours, preservatives or flavourings used in food or drinks’ (36%).
- Trust is highest in scientists (82%) and consumer organisations (79%) for information on food-related risks, followed by farmers (69%), national authorities (60%), EU institutions (58%), NGOs (56%) and journalists (50%). Fewer people trust supermarkets and restaurants (43%), food industries (36%) and celebrities, bloggers and influencers (19%).
- Just over 2 in 5 respondents (43%) say that ‘there are regulations in place to make sure that the food you eat is safe’. Three in ten (28%) know that ‘to decide how risky something could be for you to eat, the EU relies on scientists to give expert advice’.