Risk perception

DG SANCO is commissioning surveys on risk perception of EU citizens on food-related risks as part of their EU Barometer programme. In 2006 an EU Barometer survey on food risks was done and again in 2010. Around 27.000 individuals were interviewed in all 27 EU Member States in 2010. Quite shocking is 48% of the citizens thinks food they eat will damage their health (“very likely” plus “fairly likely”) up from 42% in 2006.

On pesticides the outcome is remarkable. Nr. 1 worry of EU citizens in 2010 is pesticide residues, just like the survey of 2006. In 2010 the percentage of citizens saying they are “very worried” plus “fairly worried” went up from 68% in 2006 to 72%. In some countries like Greece (91%), Lithuania (88%), Italy (85%), Bulgaria (84%,) an even much higher percentage is worried. There are more data in the report, on antibiotics, salmonella and other topics good for loosing appetite.

As a source of information citizens trust, environmental protection groups are high on the scale. 72% of the citizens saying they are “very confident” plus “fairly confident” with NGO-information. National governments are lower on the scale (47%) and supermarkets lowest (36%). This is consistent with many other surveys and most of the time the difference in trust between NGO’s and government/commercial parties is even much higher.

German Heath Institute BfR (a ministry health agency) also did a survey recently on consumer preference on food. It is done by interviewing 1000 people in Germany. A few of the conclusion in the report are:

  • 50% of German consumers prefer organic food (woman more than man);
  • 76% will not buy a product if they suspect there are residues in it
  • 75% thinks pesticides are not necessary for crop growing
  • 74% feels governments are too much influenced by farmers, trade and industry in standard setting
  • a big majority thinks pesticides are not necessary for fighting hunger in the world
  • almost all consumer use no pesticides in their garden
  • 67% thinks residues are not allowed at all legally in German food.
    and, important to know, almost all consumers get their information through media, with TV nr. 1.

Useful information

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Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN Europe) gratefully acknowledges the financial support from the European Union, European Commission, DG Environment, LIFE programme. Sole responsibility for this publication lies with the authors and the funders are not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained herein.