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The FSA research shows that concerns about costs lead to riskier behavior among consumers

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The FSA research shows that concerns about costs lead to riskier behavior among consumers

Recently published research shows that rising prices are prompting people to take more food safety risks in an effort to save money.

The Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) Food and You 2 survey was carried out between April and July 2023. A total of 5,812 adults from 4,006 households in England, Wales and Northern Ireland took part. It measures consumers’ self-reported knowledge, attitudes and behaviors regarding food safety and other food topics.

About 1 in 5 respondents reported an increase in risky food safety behavior due to financial reasons, such as keeping leftovers longer and eating food that has passed its expiration date. A few people had changed the refrigerator or freezer settings, or the length of time or temperature at which food was cooked.

This is more than the same period in 2022, when 11 percent of respondents had more often eaten food that was past its expiration date and kept leftovers longer before eating it.

The previous survey from October 2022 to January 2023 showed that 13 percent kept leftovers longer before eating, 12 percent more often ate food that had passed its expiration date, 3 percent changed the settings of the refrigerator or freezer and 2 percent changed the cooking time. changed. or temperature at which food is cooked.

Increased risk of food poisoning
“Of particular concern is that some respondents told us they turned to riskier food behaviors to save money, such as keeping leftovers for longer and eating food that has passed its expiration date. This type of behavior can lead to a greater risk of people becoming ill from food poisoning. To move food forward, we encourage people to follow our tips for keeping food safe, including freezing food on or before its expiration date if you are not going to use it,” said Emily Miles, CEO of FSA.

The majority of respondents were confident that the food they buy is safe to eat. Older people were more confident than younger adults and white respondents were more confident than Asian or Asian-British people.

Nearly three-quarters of respondents were not concerned about the food they eat. The most common concerns related to food production methods, nutrition and health, and the quality of food. Other issues included food contamination, authenticity, food safety and hygiene.

Most respondents had heard of the FSA. Many people were confident that the agency can be relied on to protect the public from food-related risks and around three-quarters were confident that the FSA will take appropriate action if a food-related risk is identified.

Nearly half of respondents searched for the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) score ‘always’ or ‘usually’, 31 percent did so about half the time or occasionally, and 21 percent never searched for the FHRS score when ordering food and drinks online.

Monthly tracker data
FSA has also published findings from its monthly consumer insights tracker, which monitors the behavior and attitudes of adults in England, Wales and Northern Ireland around food. More than 2,000 adults were interviewed.

The March 2024 results showed that almost all measures were consistent with the previous month. One in five were concerned that their household would not be able to afford food in the coming month.

More than 60 percent were concerned about the safety and quality of imported food, while 47 percent were concerned about the quality of food produced in Britain and 42 percent about its safety.

To save money, almost half had opted for cheaper alternatives instead of branded products and 37 percent had bought discounted or discounted food close to the expiration date.

A total of 9 percent had eaten food that was past its expiration date because they couldn’t afford to buy more. Eleven percent had shortened the cooking time of the food or lowered the cooking temperature.

Nine percent had changed the settings of a refrigerator or freezer so that food was stored at a higher temperature, and 5 percent had turned off a refrigerator or freezer containing food.

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