Consumers in the United Kingdom are increasingly concerned about food safety, according to a survey recently published.

The report, from Lloyd’s Register, was compiled from online research of 1,000 U.K. consumers in August 2019.

Almost a third of shoppers — 31 percent — said they are more concerned about the safety of their food compared to a year ago. Below 10 percent said they were less concerned. However, almost 60 percent said their level of concern is the same compared to one year ago.

A survey by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in 2019 found public concern about food safety in the U.K. had declined. Other research from YouGov commissioned by the Red Tractor Food Assurance Scheme revealed eight out of 10 adults take food safety for granted.

Food contamination biggest concern
The survey by Lloyd’s Register revealed that the food companies could do more to reassure consumers that their safety is a high priority. Lloyd’s also questioned the role of the media and their handling of food safety news.

Consumers are worried about bacteria in the supply chain, with 57.1 percent saying their biggest concern is food contamination, such as Listeria or Salmonella, followed by sugar, dairy or fat content  at 22.3 percent, and foreign objects such as metal or plastic in foods at 11.4 percent.

Food safety scares and concerns are playing a role in changing the modern shopper’s behaviour but most people do not modify shopping or consumption habits, according to results from the survey.

Nearly one in five U.K. consumers admitted to having changed their food shopping or consumption habits in the past 12 months for food safety reasons meaning 80 percent did not.

Hygiene and standards
Food hygiene was only the most important priority when purchasing food for 13.6 percent of people surveyed, behind nutrition and price but ahead of food waste.

More than one in three consumers believe food standards will deteriorate in post-Brexit Britain, while 43.9 percent think there will be no change and 20 percent said they will improve once the U.K. leaves the European Union.

One in five U.K. consumers said they were “not confident at all” or “very suspicious” about claims that vegan products do not contain meat.

More than one quarter of respondents said they are “not confident at all” that food products labelled as organic are grown or reared using organic farming methods.

A total of 71 percent expect retailers or restaurant operators to know the ingredients of every product sold or served to customers.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)