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Consumer perspective: Majority considers food in Germany to be safe

41/2021, 29.10.2021

The BfR publishes 13th edition of the Consumer Monitor on the perception of health risks

Just over half of the population classifies food that can be bought in Germany as safe or very safe. That is one of the results of the current BfR Consumer Monitor, a representative population survey by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR). Compared to children's toys, body care products or clothing, food is perceived as one of the safest product categories. “By developing test methods for food monitoring, the BfR contributes to ensure that food in Germany is and remains safe,” BfR President Professor Andreas Hensel comments on the results.

Go to the BfR Consumer Monitor information booklet 08|2021:

Despite the population's strong feeling of safety with regard to food, trust in science and politics to protect the health of people in Germany has decreased slightly compared to the beginning of the year. Nevertheless, science enjoys a high or very high level of trust among 65 percent of the respondents, placing it slightly behind consumer organisations (67%). The respondents currently have the least trust in politics (14%), closely followed by the media (15%) and the economy (17%).

At the same time, people are less interested in consumer health topics than they were at the beginning of the year. While in February about two out of three respondents (65%) stated to be interested in consumer health topics, this figure has dropped to 56% in the current Consumer Monitor.

The biggest health risks spontaneously mentioned by respondents are certain constellations of nutrients – such as a high content of sugar, fat or salt in food. This is followed by risks such as undesirable substances in general and an unhealthy diet and lifestyle. When asked about selected topics, microplastics in food are currently peoples’ greatest concern. More than half (57%) state to be concerned or very concerned about it. Antibiotic resistances are in second place with 48 percent. Concern here has decreased by 9 percentage points compared to the previous survey.

For the first time, questions were asked about the subjects of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in food and a possible insufficient supply of vitamins and minerals. Here, it was shown that only one in nine respondents had heard of PFAS in food. In contrast, when it comes to an insufficient supply of vitamins and minerals, two out of five stated to feel well or very well informed about the topic. Concern about this was, however, comparatively low compared to other topics (18% concerned or very concerned).

About the BfR Consumer Monitor

Whether antimicrobial resistance, microplastics, salmonella or aluminium in foods – which health risks do the population know about and what is it that worries them? The BfR Consumer Monitor provides answers to these and other questions. For this survey, around 1,000 people living in private households, and who are at least 16 years old, are interviewed by telephone every six months on behalf of the BfR.

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. The BfR advises the Federal Government and the States (‘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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