Food hygiene is biggest concern for diners when eating out

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

Hygiene awareness: some 61% of respondents said they knew about hygiene standards through stickers/certificates
Hygiene awareness: some 61% of respondents said they knew about hygiene standards through stickers/certificates
More than one third (36%) of consumers rate food hygiene as their main fear, according to new research.

The Food Standards Agency’s Biannual Public Attitudes Tracker (November 2017)​ also found that almost half (45%) of those customers with concerns about food hygiene said their worries lie in UK pubs, restaurants, cafés and takeaways specifically, and 42% of reported fears about food safety in UK shops and supermarkets.

However, the general overall trend for concern about food safety in both restaurants and shops has decreased since the survey began in November 2010.

The study also found that after food hygiene, food poisoning was the second most popular issue of concern for diners (30%).

The survey, which took place in November 2017 when a representative sample of 1,989 adults in England, Wales and Northern Ireland were interviewed face to face, also found 84% of respondents reported being aware of the hygiene standards in places they eat out at or buy food from.

Food hygiene awareness

The top food safety issues of concern for respondents were:

Food hygiene when eating out (36%)

Food poisoning (30%)

Chemicals from the environment, such as lead, in food (29%)

Food additives (26%)

Figures from the Food Standards Agency

The most commonly reported ways of knowing about hygiene standards were via hygiene stickers/certificates (61%) and the general appearance of the premises (60%).

Findings also demonstrated that 78% of respondents were aware of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and, of those, 70% trusted the Government body to do its job. Three quarters (75%) said they trusted the FSA to tell the truth in information it provided.

Ensuring that food was safe to eat was the main issue (88%) respondents reported the FSA to be responsible for.

Salmonella and E. coli were the most commonly known types of food poisoning (total awareness of 89% and 82% respectively).

Perceived most likely sources of food poisoning were raw chicken or turkey (79%), followed by shellfish (54%), reheated takeaway food (47%) and eggs (38%).

Allergen rules

The top wider food issues of concern were:

The amount of sugar in food (52%)

Food waste (48%)

Food prices (46%)

Animal welfare (43%)

Figures from the Food Standards Agency 

The report also found that almost one fifth of respondents were aware of specific rules about allergens, and 10% said they had a food intolerance and/or allergy themselves.

About three quarters reported feeling confident to ask members of staff at food outlets for more information about ingredients in food because of a concern about possible allergens/food intolerance.

Also the majority of respondents reported they trusted food is what it says it is and is accurately labelled (75%) and 74% trusted the authenticity of ingredients/origin/quality of food.

Findings also showed that 44% of respondents trusted people who produce and sell food have their best interests at heart.

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