The cost of food weighs more heavily on Europeans today than a few years ago, becoming the main factor influencing food purchases, followed by taste. Almost half also consider food safety important and 41% of EU citizens assume that the food they buy is safe.
These findings come from the 2022 Eurobarometer on food security in the EU, the fourth such survey since 2005. Based on interviews with 27,000 people across the EU, it presents an evolving picture of how Europeans choose food , their food safety awareness and concerns, and who they trust for information on food safety issues.
Global affairs are making a mark
EFSA Executive Director Bernhard Url said: “A lot has happened since our last survey in 2019, especially a global survey. pandemic and start a war in Europe. Such events have dramatic consequences and we are not surprised to see that for many Europeans an increase in the cost of living affects their food choices more than before.
“On the other hand, food safety remains important to many EU citizens and it is encouraging to see that almost half of them are as concerned about healthy eating as they are about food risks. “
EU food safety at 20 – tackling tomorrow’s risks
This latest snapshot of citizens’ views comes as the EU’s food safety system, EFSA and food safety bodies in several Member States turn 20. They were established in 2002 to give food safety in Europe a stronger scientific basis, rules harmonized, and to promote cooperation across the continent.
Mr Url said: “This milestone is an achievement for many organisations, scientific experts and other stakeholders in our system. Encouragingly, two thirds of European citizens recognize that the EU and the Member States work together, not alone, to make this a reality.
“The increasing pace of innovation and technical complexity in the way we produce, buy and eat our food are further drivers for strong collaboration across countries and across scientific disciplines.
“The 2022 Eurobarometer also shows that the majority of our citizens recognize that the state of the environment, animals and plants affects people’s health. This is encouraging, as we move towards sustainable food systems and ‘One Health’. risk assessment.”
Trust in science is solid
Seven out of 10 Europeans recognize the role of scientists in ensuring that our food is safe and 8 out of 10 trust them for food safety information. Likewise, trust in national and EU institutions is high, at around two-thirds.
Barbara Gallani, Head of Communications and Partnerships at EFSA, said: “These findings are invaluable in our day-to-day work as well as our long-term strategic planning.
“We have developed tailored summaries and data tools for our Member State partners so that they can use the Eurobarometer results to support their own public information and outreach efforts around food safety.”
Selected other collections
- Over a third of Europeans have a very high (21%) or high (17%) level of awareness of food safety topics, ie they have heard about 10 or more of the 15 topics surveyed.
- They are most likely to have heard of additives in food or drinks (70%), pesticide residues in food (65%), antibiotic residues, hormones or steroids in meat (63%) or diseases found in animals (60%).
- Pesticide residues in food (40%) and antibiotic, hormone or steroid residues in meat (39%) top the list of food safety concerns among Europeans. Fewer people were concerned about plant diseases (11%), using new biotechnology in food production (8%) and nanotechnology related to food production (5%).
- Around 6 in 10 (61%) identify television, on a TV set or via the internet, as one of their main sources of information about food risks, followed by family, friends, neighbours, or colleagues (44%) and internet search engines (37%), with important differences between generations.
- More than 8 in 10 respondents trust doctors (89%), university scientists/public funds (82%) and consumer organizations (82%) for information about food risks.
- A minority of Europeans would not change their behavior if there was a food scare (21%). Among these, the main reasons already given included preparing food in the recommended way (45%), and the belief that every food contains some risk and that it is impossible to avoid them all (25% ).