For the inaugural World Food Safety Day, Mérieux NutriSciences and bioMérieux conducted an international consumer survey to better understand consumer perception and behaviors towards food safety in four countries: the United States, China, France and India. Even if food safety seems to be a growing concern for these four countries, the results highlight different perceptions and expectations from one country to another.
When it comes to food safety, 96 per cent of respondents in China declared that they are confident in the food they consume, 93 per cent in India and 90 per cent in the United States. In France however, only 65per cent declared to be confident in the food they consume. 52% of French people interviewed claim they feel not enough informed about the safety of the food they consume. Indians (86 per cent), Americans (80 per cent) and Chinese (77 per cent) for their part feel well informed about this topic.
In terms of behavior, the best before date is the most important criteria in India (68 per cent) and in the United States (61 per cent). The best before date is considered a guarantee only for 33 per cent of the French, focusing mainly on the origin, the traceability (71 per cent), the composition of the product (63 per cent), the existence of quality labels (41 per cent).
The brand of the product is not considered as an important guarantee of food safety in France (11 per cent), whilst coming in fourth place in China (42 per cent), third place in India (43 per cent) and fifth place in the United States. Another major difference between these countries is that the origin and the traceability of the product, is the number one criteria in France, number three in China whereas it is not even listed in the top 3 in India and in the United States.
“As a leader in microbiological food control, we are committed to protecting the health of consumers and the survey we have co-funded reveals that the criteria all four nations agree on as being a concern, is the presence of bacteria in food, rated in the top 3 by Americans, Chinese, Indians and French people. This illustrates the importance of the microbiological quality of food and beverage for consumers from these 4 countries,” said Nicolas Cartier, executive vice-president, Industrial Microbiology Unit at bioMérieux.
Among the six criteria used in the survey (presence of chemicals in food, food fraud, presence of bacteria, use of new technologies, presence of viruses, traces of allergens), Americans (64 per cent) are, on average, less worried than French (78%), Indians (81%) and particularly Chinese (89 per cent).
“When looking at the future, guaranteeing that a product does not present any bacteriological or poisoning risks remains instrumental. It will also become important to ensure that the product is free of preservatives, not carcinogenic, organic and with an acceptable carbon footprint,” said Philippe Sans, president and CEO of Mérieux NutriSciences.
This implies major behavioral changes in many countries. Regarding the packaging, French (92 per cent), Chinese (72per cent), Indians (87 per cent) and Americans (83 per cent) are predominantly willing to accept the evolutions: less individual packaging, less plastic and more returnable glass. However, a minority of French (45 per cent) and Americans (49 per cent) would accept to pay more for healthier and safer food. Indians (72 per cent) and Chinese (73 per cent) would gladly consent.
For this first World Food Safety Day, this survey draws attention to the fact that Food Safety is crucial across geographies, and is everyone’s concern.
The ODOXA survey was conducted between April 30 and May 14, 2019 among a representative sample of the French population aged 18 and over, of 1000 people, a representative sample of the Chinese population aged 18 and over, of 1002 persons, a representative sample of the United States population aged 18 and over, 1005 persons and a representative sample of the Indian population aged 18 and over, of 1005 persons.