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Food and Feed Safety (07-02-2006)

Eurobarometer: EU public perceive food safety risks to be low, but one third would like more EU action in this area

One third of Europeans would like to see more EU action in the area of food safety, although general satisfaction in the work currently being carried out at EU level in this field is high, according to the results of a Eurobarometer poll on risk perception, published today. The Eurobarometer survey, commissioned by the European Commission and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), makes a broad array of data on perceptions of health and food safety-related risks available for the first time. This type of information is crucial in helping EU risk managers to strike the right balance between citizens’ expectations and what is sustainable. Risk perception is a complex matter, influenced by many factors including culture, local conditions, personal experience, psychology and the media. The Eurobarometer shows that citizens have a very good understanding of what is most likely to endanger them personally e.g. environmental pollution, car accidents and serious illness, rather than crime or terrorism. In the area of food safety, no single problem was spontaneously identified by large groups of those surveyed. This would indicate recognition of the fact that the degree of exposure to food-related problems in the EU is low, and suggest that the overall level of food safety is perceived to be high. However, the report also shows that, when presented with a list of specific risks that can alter food, such as pesticides residues, contamination by bacteria, pollutants, or additives, a high percentage (at least 60%) of people are naturally inclined to state that they worry. This proportion does not vary much according to the type of risk. The poll from which the report was produced used standard Eurobarometer methodology and was conducted in 25 Member States between September and October 2005.
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