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Survey highlights food safety concerns

By Rod Addy , 27-Mar-2013

Consumers were most uneasy about animal cloning, genetic modification, irradiation, and nanotechnology among the new technologies used by the food industry, according to UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) survey results.

'Exploring food attitudes and behaviours in the UK: findings from the Food and You Survey 2012' builds on results from Wave 1 of the survey, which was conducted in 2010.

According to the FSA, the issue the 3,231 shoppers interviewed were concerned about the most was animal cloning. Two thirds of them indicated this.

Slightly more than half said they were concerned about genetic modification (GM) and irradiation as a means of decontaminating food and more than a third expressed concern about nanotechnology.

GM technology

Eight out of 10 shoppers indicated a high awareness of GM technology, but figures were significantly lower when it came to animal cloning, irradiation and nanotechnology.

Only one in five people surveyed reported awareness of nanotechnology, while just over a third said they were aware of irradiation and almost two thirds said they were aware of animal cloning.

Consumers said they were more worried about the safety of imported meat rather than indigenous products - 62% said this was a concern, against just a third reporting concerns about UK-produced meat.

Use-by dates

Addressing the issue of 'use-by' dates on pack, two thirds of shoppers acknowledged that they were the best way of determining if food was safe to eat. Other indicators of this included the smell and appearance of foods.

"The report shines light on the public’s attitude and reported behaviour regarding food safety, both in the home and when eating out," said Bob Martin, FSA food safety adviser.

"The findings will help us to target our work with consumers where we can make the biggest impact on reducing foodborne disease."

The FSA survey also tackled consumer views about food safety in relation to food prepared in the home and food eaten outside the home in a restaurant and foodservice context.

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