More than half of respondents, including people from the U.S., to a survey feel food safety is a top three global issue.
The study from the Mars Global Food Safety Center (GFSC), that surveyed people in the United States, United Kingdom and China, found 77 percent of people think food safety is a top 10 worldwide problem.
KRC Research conducted the survey online with 1,754 adults aged 18 to 65 in mid-September. Respondents include 502 each from the U.S. and UK and 750 in China.
Food safety threats
Almost three quarters of respondents believe coronavirus will impact the viability of the global supply chain and 71 percent believe it will impact access to food. These consumers think about food safety and security as much as climate change (39 percent) and pollution (38 percent).
The “rising generation”, or people aged 18 to 34, are particularly attuned to food safety through technology and an increasingly globalized economy, according to Mars.
“New food safety threats, like those posed by COVID-19, are constantly emerging through a combination of factors including global warming, increased globalization of trade, as well as changes in agriculture practices and food production,” said David Crean, Mars chief science officer and vice president of corporate R&D.
This year marks the fifth anniversary of the Global Food Safety Center, a research and training facility in Beijing, China designed to tackle food safety challenges with a team of more than 30 Mars associates who work at the site.
Mycotoxins, microbes and fraud
One area of focus is mycotoxin risk management starting with aflatoxins in the developing world. Other topics are microbial risk management for faster detection, identification and a predictive approach as well as food integrity including food fraud.
Mars also co-founded the Sequencing the Food Supply Chain Consortium with IBM that is using genomics, the microbiome, and big data to try and improve food safety.
Sixty percent of those surveyed raised concern about keeping food safe from toxins, as well as bacteria, and 58 percent are worried about preventing food fraud.
People also expressed the importance for government and private organizations to continue to focus on preventing food safety issues (85 percent), to invest in early detection programs (84 percent) and to manage global food safety (80 percent).
Almost three quarters of consumers are willing to place their trust in food regulatory agencies, country governments (65 percent) and international governing bodies (61 percent) to ensure food safety but most agree more needs to be done.
Sixty-one percent of respondents feel they are knowledgeable about food safety and security, with most people finding information from news outlets (55 percent), social media (37 percent) and word of mouth (36 percent), but 82 percent of those asked wanted to learn more.
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