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Concern For Irish Consumers When Buying Food.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) last week welcomed the EU-wide research conducted by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The 2022 Eurobarometer on food safety, the first to be commissioned since 2019, and focused on a range of topics including concerns about food safety, trust in sources of information on food risks, and personal interest in food safety.

When asked about factors affecting food purchases, Irish consumers ranked cost (63%) as the most important consideration, with taste (54%) and food safety (52%) following close behind. Strikingly, these results are higher overall than the average top concerns across the whole EU of cost (54%), taste (51%) and food safety (46%).

Other findings from the Eurobarometer include:

  • Chief among Irish food safety concerns are food poisoning from food or drinks contaminated by bacteria, viruses, and parasites (39%); pesticide residues in food (36%); and additives like colours, preservatives or flavourings used in food or drinks (29%).
  • A strong majority of Irish consumers (82% of men and 83% of women) would change their behaviour if made aware of a foodborne disease outbreak news story, with 90% of those aged 15–24 stating they would do so.
  • When asked for their reasons for not engaging with the EU food safety system, Irish consumers (47%) responded; “I take it for granted that the food sold is safe”.

Dr Pamela Byrne, Chief Executive, FSAI said, “In the current high cost of living climate and with rising household bills, it is not surprising to see that Irish consumers report cost as the main factor when purchasing food, up 6% since 2019. However, from a food safety perspective, it is encouraging to see that Irish consumers place food safety as the third most important factor when buying food.

Over 1,000 Irish consumers were interviewed as part of this research, and 90% of those agreed that regulations are in place to ensure that the food we eat is safe, with 84% of the same respondents trusting national authorities as a source of information on food risk, a figure almost 20% higher than the EU average (66%).

75% of Irish people interviewed said they had a personal interest in the topic of food safety. We want every Irish consumer to know that the FSAI is responsive and understanding of their concerns regarding food safety. We continue to work with food businesses in Ireland to ensure that food safety regulations are complied with and that Ireland maintains its positive reputation for producing safe food. Working in conjunction with the food inspectorate and other EU food safety authorities, we will continue to protect consumers and raise compliance through partnership, science, and food law enforcement,” Dr Byrne concluded.

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