Food Safety A Growing Concern in Most of the World

Majorities in 19 Countries Feel Food Less Safe than a Decade Ago - Ipsos-Reid Study

Food Safety A Growing Concern in Most of the World

PARIS, MARCH 28, 2001 - Majorities in 19 of 34 countries surveyed by international market research firm Ipsos-Reid say they feel that their food is less safe than it was 10 years ago, despite major advances in food production and processing in the last decade.

In fact, the research company could not find one country among the 34 countries studied where a majority of residents feel their food is safer than it was ten years ago. Citizens in Singapore are the most optimistic about their food supply, with 47% saying they believe their food is safer than it was 10 years ago. At the other extreme is Colombia, where a whopping 82% of residents feel their food supply has worsened. Meanwhile, in countries like Canada, the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany and Japan, most people feel that food is at least as safe as it used to be.

"Food safety is no longer another disturbing item on the news which can only affect "someone else" in some remote part of the world. It is clearly registering on more and more people's radar screen of concerns," said Gus Schattenberg, a vice-president with Ipsos-Reid's global research division.

"These days, consumers everywhere have more opportunity to sample foods from different parts of the world -- foods produced and processed according to wildly different standards. Our study shows that huge numbers of people have lost confidence in the food they are now able to buy."


  • Regionally, Latin Americans lead the pack in expressing lack of faith in their food supply relative to a decade ago, but the pessimism extends through parts of Europe, Asia, the Mid-East, and Africa.
  • Women in every country surveyed are substantially more likely than men are to consider their food supply less safe than it used to be.
  • Poorer people are generally more apt than more wealthy citizens to perceive more risk in the food available to them.

    But wealthy nations are not immune to food fears.

    Some of the countries in which a substantial number of those surveyed feel more doubt about the safety of their food are socially and economically advanced. These countries -- which include Italy (63% less safe), Belgium (59% less safe), and Germany (45% less safe), have access to sophisticated technology and hygienic processes.

    While only just over one-third (37%) of respondents in the highest income bracket say food has become less safe, almost two-thirds (62%) of the poorest respondents state that their food supply has gotten riskier. Mid-income respondents came in at (59% less safe).

    "Consumers are at the point where many need constant reassurance about the safety of the food products in the market," Schattenberg added. "A premium brand not only has to be associated with better taste, variety, and freshness, but also less risk."

    Women in every country surveyed say food safety is more of a concern than it used to be. Overall, half of women (52%) versus four-in-ten (41%) men think the food available to them is less safe than it was at the start of the 90s.

    Methodology Results within each country are accurate within plus/minus 5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Results for the U.S. have a margin of error of plus/minus 3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Interviews were conducted with 18,650 adults in 34 countries last November and December.

    About Ipsos-Reid Ipsos-Reid has been tracking public opinion around the world for more than 20 years and has become a leading provider of global public opinion and market research to private, public, and not-for-profit organizations in over 50 countries. It is a member of Paris-based Ipsos Group, ranked among the top ten research groups in the world.

    For more information, please contact:

    Gus Schattenberg (604) 893-1606


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