Cost is the highest concern for Irish consumers when it comes to buying food, EU-wide research shows.
The research conducted by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) shows that these results are higher overall than the average top concerns across the whole of the EU, for cost (54%), taste (51%) and food safety (46%).
Commenting on the findings, 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.”
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%).
The strong majority of Irish consumers (82% of men and 83% of women) would change their behaviour if made aware of a food-borne disease outbreak news story, with 90% of those aged 15-24 stating that they would do so, too.
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.’
Byrne highlighted that over 1,000 Irish consumers were interviewed as part of this research.
Some 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%).
“Seventy-five per cent [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,” Byrne said.
“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.”