Since 2020, Ipsos has been running the FSA’s flagship consumer survey, Food and You 2. Research from the survey, published today by the Food Standards Agency indicates that the top three food-related concerns amongst consumers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are food waste, the amount of sugar in food, and animal welfare, with over half of respondents reporting that they are concerned about each of these issues.
The main findings from Wave 4 of Food and You 2 are outlined below.
Confidence in food safety, authenticity and the food supply chain
- Most respondents (92%) reported that they were confident that the food they buy is safe to eat and more than 8 in 10 (86%) respondents were confident that the information on food labels is accurate.
- Around three quarters of respondents (76%) reported that they had confidence in the food supply chain. Respondents were more likely to report confidence in farmers (88%) and shops and supermarkets (85%) than in takeaways (61%), and food delivery services (45%).
Concerns about food
- Most respondents (86%) had no concerns about the food they eat.
- When prompted, the most common concerns amongst all respondents were food waste (63%), the amount of sugar in food (59%) and animal welfare (56%).
- Across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, 82% of respondents were classified as food secure (70% high, 12% marginal) and 18% of respondents were classified as food insecure (10% low, 7% very low).
Eating out and takeaways
- Around half of respondents had eaten food in a restaurant (53%), from a café, coffee shop or sandwich shop (either to eat in or to take out) (52%) or ordered a takeaway directly from a takeaway shop or restaurant (50%) in the previous 4 weeks.
- Over a third of respondents had eaten food from a fast-food outlet (either to eat in or take out) (38%) or ordered a takeaway from an online food delivery company (for example, Just Eat, Deliveroo, Uber Eats) (35%). Around 1 in 10 (9%) respondents had not eaten food from any of the listed food businesses in the previous 4 weeks.
- Most respondents (89%) reported that they had heard of the FHRS. Over half (59%) of respondents reported that they had heard of the FHRS and had at least a bit of knowledge about it.
Food allergies, intolerances and other hypersensitivities
- Most respondents (76%) reported that they did not have a food hypersensitivity. Just over 1 in 10 (12%) respondents reported that they had a food intolerance, 4% reported having a food allergy, and 1% reported having coeliac disease.
- Of the respondents who reported having a food allergy, the most common foods reported as causing a reaction were peanuts (26%) and fruit (24%).
- Of the respondents who reported having a food intolerance, the most common foods reported as causing a reaction were cow’s milk and products made with cow’s milk (41%) and cereals containing gluten (19%).
Eating at home
- Over two thirds (69%) of respondents identified the use-by date as the information which shows that food is no longer safe to eat.
- Around two-thirds (67%) of respondents reported that they always check use-by dates before they cook or prepare food.
- Over half of respondents (56%) reported that they never wash raw chicken, whilst 40% of respondents wash raw chicken at least occasionally.
Food shopping: sustainability and environmental impact
- Almost a third (30%) of respondents reported buying food which has a low environmental impact always or most of the time.
- Half of respondents thought that eating less processed food (50%) and 47% thought that minimising food waste contributed most to someone having a sustainable diet.
- Most (59%) respondents thought that buying locally produced food or food that is in season contributed most to someone making sustainable food shopping choices.
Sustainable diets, meat alternatives and genetic technologies
- The most common changes respondents reported making in the previous 12 months were eating less processed food (40%) and starting to minimise food waste (40%).
- Around a third (32%) of respondents reported that they currently eat meat alternatives, 21% of respondents reported that they used to eat meat alternatives but no longer do and 39% of respondents reported that they had never eaten meat alternatives.
- Respondents reported greater awareness and knowledge of genetically modified (GM) food (9% had never heard of GM food) than gene-edited or genome-edited food (GE) (42% had never heard of GE food).
Awareness, trust and confidence in the FSA
- Around three quarters (77%) of respondents who had at least some knowledge of the FSA reported that they trusted the FSA to make sure ‘food is safe and what it says it is’.
Food and You 2 is the FSA’s biannual survey. The survey uses a 'push-to-web’ methodology in which participants are invited to take part by post and are provided with the option to complete the survey online or on paper. This methodology allows us to collect robust data using a random probability sampling approach, while allowing the survey to be run more frequently, to be more responsive to new and emerging issues, and for more people to take part.
Fieldwork for Food and You 2 wave 4 was conducted between 18 October 2021 and 10 January 2022. A total of 5,796 adults (16 and over) from 4,026 households across England, Wales and Northern Ireland took part.