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Irish research shows high confidence in the safety of food

Industry and consumer research by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has revealed strong confidence in food safety measures.

Consumers believe that food safety in the country has improved in the past five years, with some 9 in 10 people saying food in Ireland is safe.

Surveys were undertaken with nationally representative samples of decision-makers in the food industry and of adults in Ireland in October and November 2023. They covered attitudes on food safety, sustainable food, and food safety regulation. A total of 612 consumers and 200 industry representatives were interviewed.

Regarding consumer trends, 35 percent order takeaway food at least weekly. While more than half check and adhere to use-by dates, a further 40 percent said that while they check them, they don’t always follow expiry dates.

Pamela Byrne, FSAI CEO, said results indicate strong trust in food safety amongst industry and consumers. 

“Our research shows that confidence is high in the safety of our food in Ireland, something which is felt both by consumers and businesses, and is a reflection of the high standards in place by all those in the wider food industry,” she said.

Industry views
The survey with businesses revealed high confidence levels in food safety measures for the Irish food industry and those working in a specific sector, with nearly 9 out of 10 feeling confident in food safety standards. Industry cited carcinogenic or cancer-causing chemicals as a worry, with 1 in 3 listing them as a concern, followed by pesticides and antibiotic residues.

Industry food safety concerns have been reduced due to perceived robust regulations, increased knowledge of food safety procedures, and good controls by inspectors.

Findings highlighted that numerous issues remain for businesses despite increased confidence in food safety. Food allergens, food hygiene, handling, and food poisoning rank as the main worries for Irish firms, with over a third listing these in their top three concerns.

Research showed that more than 3 in 4 food companies cited increased business costs as the top issue affecting the industry. This is followed by concerns over the availability of staff at 46 percent.

Companies also see FSAI as having a role in supporting a move to more sustainable food production without compromising food safety.

One in five businesses said sustainability initiatives make adhering to food safety regulations harder. Still, most believed that supplying food sustainably would not impact meeting such rules.

Hildegarde Naughton, Minister of State responsible for public health, wellbeing, and the National Drugs Strategy at the Department of Health, said: “Our science and evidence-based approach to food safety maintains the integrity of, and trust in our food chain. It is reassuring that this new research shows consumers believe that food safety in Ireland has improved in the past five years.” 

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

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