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Food-Borne Illness a Top Concern for Australians According to Survey

January 28, 2022

The Food Insights Questionnaire (FoodIQ), conducted by the Centre for Global Food and Resources (CGFAR) Research Centre at the University of Adelaide, is a twice-yearly survey that asks approximately 1,000 food shoppers in Australia about their attitudes towards food and food safety. Among the questionnaire topics include:

  • Household food costs
  • Food choice influences
  • Personal food consumption
  • Concerns about food safety
  • Changes to protein or meat consumption, and reasons for those changes
  • Awareness and understanding of food labelling
  • Trusted sources of information
  • Views and actions on environmental causes

The recently released FoodIQ report provides valuable insights about Australians’ attitudes towards food safety incidents and outbreaks.

How consumers approach food safety

  • The top 3 out of 12 food issues consumers identified as the most important are about imported food, food-borne illness caused by bacteria or other contaminants, and pesticide use.
  • Less than 10 percent said they changed their behaviour due to a top food safety issue, even though food-borne illness is a top concern.
  • Consumers are relatively confident in Australia’s food supply safety, rating an average score of 5.5 out of 7.
  • Cost, taste, health and nutrition, country of origin and food safety are the top factors consumers consider when grocery shopping.
  • When asked about their willingness to take food safety risks on a scale of 0 (unwilling to take any risks) to 10 (fully willing to take risks), consumers gave an average rating of 4.
  • Pesticide use is the most pressing concern consumers identified related to food production issues.
  • 44 percent to 70 percent of respondents remembered a food product recall in the past 24 months.
  • For those who changed their behaviour because of a food recall, most stopped buying the recalled item temporarily while some stopped buying the item permanently. Other respondents started paying more attention to food labels.

How does this affect food businesses?

Even though consumers are relatively confident in the overall safety of the country’s food supply, more people are growing conscientious about recalls, where their ingredients come from and what chemicals are being used in their food. With this in mind, food businesses should implement strategies to improve their establishment for food safety-conscious consumers. Some actionable items include:

  • Sourcing food from reputable suppliers and being transparent with customers about where they source their ingredients. Traceability software can help identify exactly where your ingredients come from and, should a food safety issue come up, understand where in the supply chain the issue occurred.
  • Ensuring you have a robust food labelling system in place following all FSANZ labelling standards to help prevent mislabelling and food recalls.
  • Keeping up with food safety news to make sure everyone on staff is aware of new health and safety regulations and procedures.

Food-borne illness outbreaks, recalls and other public food safety incidents can easily reduce consumer trust in your business, so it’s always a good idea to ensure everyone on your team is prioritising safe food handling practices! The best way to make sure your team is properly trained in food safety is by taking a nationally recognised Food Safety Course that meets compliance requirements. Contact the team at Food Safety First for any questions about your training needs!