Food safety was either the top or the second most important thing when buying food for people in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo.

In Kosovo, 57 percent said food safety was the main factor, with cost being second. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, cost was first with 64 percent, followed by food safety with 54 percent.

It is the first Eurobarometer food safety poll to include people’s views in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo. Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Turkey also took part in the survey, commissioned by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), in 2019. These seven countries are aiming to join the EU at some point in the future.

Bosnia and Herzegovina findings
The survey in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo was carried out between May and June 2023, with more than 2,000 respondents from different social and demographic groups being interviewed face-to-face in their language.

Overall, 69 percent of respondents in Bosnia and Herzegovina said they were personally interested in food safety, compared to the EU average of 70 percent.

People had mainly heard about additives like colors, preservatives, or flavorings used in food or drinks and food poisoning from items contaminated by bacteria, viruses, and parasites. The latter was also a major concern of citizens, alongside genetically modified ingredients. The top reason given not to engage with food safety was “I know enough to avoid or mitigate food risks.”

Barbara Gallani, head of EFSA’s communications and partnership department, said: “Together with our partners in EU member states and in pre-accession countries our cooperation on communication has benefitted from generating insights from social research like the Eurobarometer.

“We can better understand the concerns and needs of audiences to help make our communications more impactful. This collaboration is already bearing fruit for use in campaigns we run jointly and as input for our national partners when they need to communicate directly with their citizens.”

Kosovo results
A total of 78 percent of respondents in Kosovo said they were interested in the topic of food safety, which was above the EU average. Participants mainly had heard and were concerned about food poisoning from items contaminated by bacteria, viruses, and parasites.

Reasons not to engage with food safety were split between taking it for granted food was safe, knowing enough to avoid or mitigate risks, and finding food safety information highly technical and complex.

A recent assessment of food safety control systems by the European Commission found Bosnia and Herzegovina had a way to go to meet EU standards. While Kosovo had made progress, the country’s food agency needed more financial and human resources.

EFSA is also running a tender process to help pre-accession countries build capacities to address future food-related crises. These nations include Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey.

One of the objectives is to develop annual training plans and materials, covering two-day workshops in 2024, 2025, and 2026 with different training formats such as case studies, desktop exercises, and mock exercises, plus a simulation covering an urgent response to a multi-country animal or public health outbreak related to biological hazards, animal health and welfare, plant health, and chemical hazards.

Expected outcomes of the training are enhanced urgent response capacities in risk assessment and risk communication and improved crisis preparedness procedures. The tender process is open until Jan. 2, 2024.

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