The majority of people think food is safe in Germany and that safety is getting better, according to a survey.

More than half of survey respondents rated food as safe or very safe. This is more than for other product categories such as children’s toys, body care products or clothing.

More than 40 percent said the safety of food products that can be bought in Germany tends to increase, a third said it remains the same and one in five said it was decreasing.

The findings come from the latest consumer monitor in August, a survey by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR). About 1,000 people, who are at least 16 years old, are interviewed by telephone every six months on behalf of the agency.

“By developing test methods for food monitoring, the BfR contributes to ensure that food in Germany is and remains safe,” said BfR president Professor Andreas Hensel.

The biggest health risks mentioned by respondents are certain nutrients such as a high content of sugar, fat or salt in food. This is followed by undesirable substances in general, an unhealthy diet and lifestyle, insufficient/misleading consumer information and lack of hygiene.

Knowledge and concern for pathogens
Most people had heard of genetically modified food and microplastics. Half had heard of Listeria in food but only a quarter knew about Campylobacter.

Microplastics in food are respondents’ greatest concern. More than half said they were concerned or very concerned about it. Antibiotic resistance is in second place with 48 percent but concern has decreased by 9 percent compared to the previous survey.

Only 15 percent were concerned or very concerned about Listeria in food, 13 percent about food hygiene at home and 6 percent about Campylobacter.

People felt most informed about food hygiene at home. Only 11 percent were very well informed or well informed about Listeria in food and 5 percent said this for Campylobacter.

For the first time, a question was asked about per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Only one in nine respondents had heard of PFAS in food.

Trust in science to protect the health of people in Germany has decreased slightly compared to the beginning of the year but still has a high or very high level among two thirds of respondents, placing it slightly behind consumer organizations.

Risk analysis event
Meanwhile, the BfR recently co-hosted the second Latin American and Caribbean Risk Assessment Symposium (LARAS).

The virtual event, during four days in October, was organized with the Chilean Agency for Food Safety and Quality (ACHIPIA).

Expert speakers from more than 10 countries discussed how to make risk analysis more robust. The first day focused on food authenticity and day two was about novel foods and new risks. The next day, speakers discussed collaborative experiences in risk assessment, and the final day looked at communication regarding food risks.

Partners included the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

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