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Eurobarometer of food safety

A new Eurobarometer survey commissioned by EFSA investigated Europeans’ overall interest in food safety, including factors affecting food-related decisions, main information channels on food-related risks, changes in behaviour and views on complexity of communication about food-related risks[5]. The survey also addressed awareness and risk perceptions when it comes to food safety topics, trust in different sources of information and understanding of the EU food safety system

The survey was carried out by the Kantar network in the 28 EU Member States between the 9th and 26th of April 2019. Some 27,655 respondents from different social and demographic groups were interviewed face-to-face at home in their mother tongue.

The methodology used is that of the Standard Eurobarometer surveys carried out by the Directorate-General for Communication. It is the same for all countries and territories covered in the survey.

Key findings included:

• 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.

• More than two thirds of Europeans (69%) say that television is among their main sources of information about food risks. This is followed by the internet (excluding social media) (46%), newspapers and magazines (38%) and family, friends and neighbours (37%).

• 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’.






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