A report by the UK consumer group Which? calls for a new approach to how food issues are handled to give consumer interests much greater priority, based on:
- Strong Government leadership and a clear food strategy;
- Effective consumer engagement on food issues;
- A more consumer-focused Department for Enviroment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and a stronger Food Standards Agency (FSA) with responsibility for policy on nutrition, food labelling and standards returned;
- A greater Government focus on clear pricing and long-term affordability; and
- Enabling consumers to make healthy, sustainable and informed choices.
The report also reports on a survey it commissioned into how people feel about food in the wake of the horsemeat scandal. It finds:
- Six in 10 people (61%) wanted more information on the quality of ingredients used, a similar percentage (58%) on food safety standards and more than half (53%) on where the food was produced.
- Two-thirds of people (65%) said food prices, which have increased by 12% over the past five years, have become more important in the current economic climate, followed by quality (35%) and taste (32%). Previous Which? research found that with household budgets under increasing pressure, people are changing their shopping habits, eating out less and looking for special offers. People were however suspicious of price promotions with eight in 10 people (78%) feeling that offers in supermarkets in particular were misleading.
- The number of consumers saying they had confidence in food safety has fallen from nine in 10 (92%) in the October before the scandal, to seven in 10 (72%) in February.
- Overall, people wanted the Government to take a much stronger lead, developing a clear action plan to deal with the problems across the food chain.
You can download the report here.