Farming: Public trust in British food on par with backing for NHS, poll says​​​​​​​

British consumers trust home-produced food as much as they do NHS care – and significantly more than the police, judicial services, and other daily essentials and utilities, such as gas and electricity.

The public overwhelmingly believes that the UK’s food is safe, traceable and good quality
The public overwhelmingly believes that the UK’s food is safe, traceable and good quality

That was the finding of the UK’s first “Trust in Food” Index published yesterday – which highlighted major differences in British attitudes to food bought from within the UK and that produced in other countries.

The research, conducted by YouGov, interviewed over 3,500 adults across the UK and found the public overwhelmingly believes that the UK’s food is safe, traceable and good quality.

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The Red Tractor food assurance scheme which commissioned the survey said that one of the main reasons behind the public’s confidence in British food was an implicit trust in the systems of regulation and assurance that exist in the UK.

Half of those surveyed referred to high standards and regulations as the reason they trusted food produced in the UK. Almost three quarters of respondents also felt that inspection and assurance schemes such as Red Tractor and Quality Meat Scotland played a greater role than the Government in ensuring that the UK’s food was safe and of good quality.

Significantly, the survey found that while 84 per cent of UK consumers trusted food from Britain, levels of trust in food from outside the UK varied wildly.

Food from Ireland and New Zealand topped the trust levels for imported food, while leading EU food producers such as Sweden, Germany, Italy, Denmark and the Netherlands were also well thought of.

By contrast, only 25 per cent of Brits trusted food from the USA and just 11 per cent trusted food from China – but, interestingly, Commonwealth countries such as Australia and Canada lagged behind several of the major EU food producing countries.

The survey also showed that more than twice as many people trusted food bought in shops – and especially locally produced fresh ingredients – than trusted takeaways and deliveries.

“The most important finding in this report isn’t simply that most people trust the food they buy in the UK. It’s the reason why” said Christine Tacon, Chair of Red Tractor, said:

“By far the biggest reason why people trust food here in the UK is the strength of our food standards and our independent assurance schemes,” she stated.

Chair of the Trade and Agriculture Commission, Tim Smith, said the report got to the heart of the challenge policymakers faced as the country embarked on new trade deals: “On the one hand, we have the prospect of greater choice and more affordable food from around the world,” he said, “on the other, we have the right to expect the food we eat in the UK to have been produced to the same ethical, environmental and animal welfare standards which are adopted by our own farmers.”

He added: “In our final report of the Trade and Agriculture Commission, we were clear that there should be no race to the bottom, no backsliding, and no turning back the clock on those standards as we develop our new trade strategy.”

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