Nearly eight out of 10 adults in the United Kingdom admit to taking food safety for granted according to a survey.

The online analysis of more than 2,100 U.K. adults this month looked at people’s concerns about the food they buy and their confidence in U.K. produced food.

The survey by YouGov, commissioned by the Red Tractor Food Assurance Scheme, revealed different levels of trust between supermarkets and restaurants. Red Tractor writes standards for farming and food production. For food to have the Red Tractor logo it must have been certified by independent inspectors at the farm, transport, processing and packing stages of the food supply chain.

A total of 76 percent of people admit they take food being produced to high safety and food standards for granted. This increases to 79 percent for those in London, who are least likely to be concerned about food safety.

BSE still concerns people
People are most worried about what could have a direct negative impact on their health.

Of past high profile food crises, people were most concerned with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) as 72 percent admitted to being fairly or very concerned. The numbers increased to 83 percent for those aged over 55. In the North East of England with a prominent farming community it was even higher at 85 percent.

BSE, also known as mad cow disease, was first confirmed in cattle in the U.K. in 1986. The related human form variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) in the U.K. suggested a link between BSE and vCJD. Some people who developed vCJD are known to have eaten potentially BSE-infected meat products.

The research also shows that the way respondents think about food safety is influenced by media reporting. About 41 percent consider it every time they go shopping to buy food, but this rises to 52 percent when they see a big news story on the subject.

Supermarket and eating out difference
More than seven in 10 are confident the food they buy from a supermarket has been produced to high standards and that they know where it comes from; compared with  only half of people who feel confident about standards and traceability when eating at a restaurant or café.

A relaxed view on safety is linked with the high expectations people hold for U.K. produced food. Sixty percent said the thing they value most about food produced in the U.K. is to be supporting British farmers (30 percent), to purchase local produce (16 percent) and to value the way in which the food is produced (14 percent); while one in four said their most important consideration is the quality of British food.

Jim Moseley, CEO of Red Tractor Assurance, said if people are taking food safety for granted it demonstrates that something is being done right.

“Red Tractor was created almost two decades ago, after a spate of food scares and confidence in British food and farming was at a low. Our standards were designed to ensure food that is produced is safe, traceable and farmed carefully, in order to transform and rebuild trust in British farming and food quality from farm to pack,” he said.

“However, the success in driving up British food standards must not be undermined by a potential influx of imported food produced to standards that are currently deemed illegal in this country, should we be faced with a no-deal Brexit. There’s no more important time for people to recognize that not all food is produced to the same rigorous standards as the U.K.”

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