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An increased number of people are worried about mycotoxins in food

44/2019, 18.11.2019

The BfR publishes ninth Consumer Monitor on the perception of health risks

Salmonella in food, genetically modified food, and antimicrobial resistance are the health and consumer issues that top consumer awareness. Nevertheless, more than three quarters of Germans still consider food to be safe. This is the result of the latest Consumer Monitor - a representative population survey from the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR). The topic of mycotoxins in food is considerably more widely known and at the same time alarms more people than in the previous survey conducted in February 2019. Almost half of the respondents are concerned about it. "Consumers are more afraid of synthetically produced than of naturally occurring substances," says BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel. "The fact that people now regard mycotoxins in food to be just as dangerous as salmonella or plant protection product residue shows how quickly the perception of health risks is changing."

Whether antimicrobial resistance, microplastics, salmonella or mycotoxins - which health risks do the population know about and which topics worry them? As a representative population survey, the BfR Consumer Monitor provides insights into how Germans perceive health risks every six months. For this survey, around 1,000 people living in private households, and who are at least 14 years old are interviewed by telephone on behalf of the BfR.

Respondents still perceive poor or unhealthy diets, climate and environmental pollution, and smoking as the biggest health risks. For the first time, at least five percent of respondents spontaneously named the topic area care, age, and retirement as risks. When asked about selected topics, salmonella in food, genetically modified food, and antimicrobial resistance topped consumer awareness. These topics were followed by microplastics and residues from plant protection products in food, and aluminium in food packaging or containers.

As in the previous survey, antimicrobial resistance and microplastics are still the issues that most respondents worry about. However, in comparison to the last survey, the population is considerably more worried about mycotoxins in food: here, the number of those who are worried has risen by 13 percentage points to 46 percent. Similarly, many respondents think that salmonella in food, for instance, is a cause for concern. The topic Listeria in food, which was included in this survey for the first time, was only known to just under half of the respondents.

In a special edition of the Eurobarometer "Food Safety in the EU", a survey with approx. 28,000 participants in 28 EU member states conducted in April 2019, differences in risk perception within the EU were made clear. A European comparison shows that concerns about “antibiotic, hormone, or steroid residues in meat” are much higher in the German population at 61 percent than the European average (44 percent). Conversely, Germany is less concerned (22 percent) about "food poisoning from bacteria" than the EU as a whole (30 percent). The latest BfR Consumer Monitor also shows relatively little concern about bacteria in food, such as Listeria or Campylobacter, which are each known to less than half of respondents.

2019 Eurobarometer "Food Safety in the EU",

About the BfR

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientifically independent institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Germany. It advises the Federal Government and Federal Laender on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts its own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.

This text version is a translation of the original German text which is the only legally binding version.

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Publications - BfR Consumer Monitor

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28.11.2019
BfR Consumer Monitor 08/2019 575.3 KB
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