Consumer trust in food industry shaken

Consumer trust in the food industry has been dented since the horsemeat issue erupted in January, a Which? survey has claimed.

Out of the 2,000 consumers who took part in the Which? survey, a quarter said they trusted the food industry less since the scandal broke, while nearly a third said they were buying less processed meat.

When asked about labelling enforcement and laws, nearly 70% of the respondents said they did not think the government had given enough attention to enforcing the laws. And half of the respondents said they were not confident that ingredient information on products was accurate.

There has also been a drop in consumer confidence towards food safety and, since before the scandal broke, nine out of 10 consumers were confident about buying from supermarkets, but this has dropped to seven in 10.

Action

Which? has suggested five steps the government should take, in light of the horsemeat issue. The consumer advice group asked for the government to ensure food surveillance was better coordinated; that there was tougher enforcement for those illegally acting; to bring in tighter legislation to ensure manufacturers are tested regularly; increase on-pack labelling; and for the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to deal with food labelling again.

Director of Which? Richard Lloyd explained that the scandal had exposed the need for urgent changes in the way food fraud is detected and standards are enforced. He said: "These serious failings must be put right if consumers are to feel fully confident in the food they are buying. 

"Ministers must ensure that everyone involved – including their own departments, the FSA, the food industry and local authorities – are crystal clear about their responsibility to protect consumers and are properly equipped to do so."

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