Most people believe the food they buy is safe, according to research published by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

More than 90 percent of respondents were confident in food safety and authenticity and 8 in 10 trusted that information on food labels was accurate.

The Food and You 2 survey was conducted between October 2021 and January 2022. It measured self-reported consumer knowledge, attitudes and behaviors related to food safety and other issues for adults in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Almost 5,800 people took part.

More than two-thirds of respondents identified the use-by date as the information which shows that food is no longer safe to eat. Most had not eaten shellfish, other fish, smoked fish or raw meat past this date in the previous month. Less than half had eaten bagged salad or cheese past the use-by date in the past month.

Almost 90 percent of people had heard of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme and about 4 in 10 reported checking the rating of a business in the previous 12 months.  

About 3 in 10 had a high level of concern about food from outside the UK being safe and hygienic compared to 2 in 10 who were worried about this for food from inside the UK.

Consumer behavior
Forty percent of participants said they wash raw chicken at least occasionally. Authorities advise against doing this as it can spread bacteria.

The majority of respondents said they always wash their hands before preparing or cooking food at home. Only half always washed hands, used hand sanitizing gel or wipes when eating outside the home.

The top method to verify reheated food was ready was to check to see if the middle is hot, and the least common was to use a thermometer or probe.

Food safety and hygiene ranked third for people who had a concern about the food they eat.

When asked about issues from a list of options, less than half were concerned about food poisoning and food hygiene when ordering takeaways or when eating out.

Emily Miles, chief executive at the FSA, said: “As well as giving us an important insight into the FSA’s core responsibility of food safety, Food and You 2 also provides us with a detailed snapshot of peoples’ perceptions and behaviors on food-related issues, including sustainability, food security, and  their diets. This insight is part of the evidence we provide so that consumers’ perspectives on the food they eat are heard.”

Three quarters of respondents said they had confidence in the food supply chain, with the most trust in farmers.

Almost 2 in 10 respondents had an allergy to a food which was not in a given list, which included the 14 most prevalent allergens.

About 4 in 10 reported they had no knowledge of the FSA and 33 percent had heard of the agency but knew nothing about it.

People reported greater awareness and knowledge of genetically modified (GM) food than gene-edited or genome-edited food (GE). Almost 3 in 10 said they would like to try lab-grown meat if it became available.

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