Food prices, salt, and waste all topped concerns about food safety in the periodic tracking survey conducted in the United Kingdom for the Food Standards Agency.

In a November 2010 tracking survey, the FSA found out what was on the minds of 2,105 adults in the UK.

The main food issues , according to survey respondents, were food prices (54 percent); the amount of salt in food (45 percent) and food waste (42 percent.  

When asked about food safety, the top concerns were food hygiene when eating out (36 percent), food poisoning (29 percent), and the use of food additives (27 percent.)

FSA periodically placed tracking questions in an omnibus consumer survey in order to stay on top of public opinion and awareness of the agency and key food issues.

Eighty per cent of respondents were aware of the hygiene standards in the places they ate out in or buy food from. The main way people judged the hygiene standards were from the general appearance of the premises (65 percent), appearance of staff (51 percent) and its reputation (42 percent).

Among other findings in the latest survey:

Respondents aged 16-25 demonstrated a lower total concern than every other age group for the main food issues of total concern.

Amongst the sample, slightly fewer people reported being concerned about the safety of food sold in UK shops and supermarkets compared to UK restaurants, pubs, cafes and takeaways (45 percent compared to 51 percent respectively).

Males were less concerned about the safety of food sold overall than females, as were respondents who were not the principal shopper compared to respondents who were the principal shopper.

And 79 percent of respondents in the UK reported being aware of the Food Standards Agency.

Those who were aware of the FSA were asked what issues they thought the FSA was responsible for. The main issue that respondents reported to fall within the Agency’s remit was ensuring food bought is safe to eat (82 percent).

Half of the respondents who reported being aware of the Food Standards Agency were asked how much they trust or distrust the FSA to do its job. 62 percent of these respondents reported that they trusted the Agency to do its job.

FSA began the tracking surveys in 2001.  It now places seven questions in the face-to-face omnibus survey twice a year.

The questions cover concern about specific food issues (spontaneous and prompted), attitudes towards particular food safety issues; awareness of hygiene standards in eating establishments; awareness of the Food Standards Agency and the Agency’s responsibilities (spontaneous and prompted); and trust in the FSA.

The complete results along with detailed information about the survey can be found here.