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First report from new Food and You 2 survey published

Today, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published the findings from Food and You 2: Wave 1, our new more frequent and flexible flagship consumer survey.

The Food and You 2 survey, which includes data from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, is used to collect information on the public’s self-reported knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours regarding food safety and other food-related issues.

Key findings

Food security

It is expected that the COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on the level of food security reported by respondents in Food and You 2: Wave 1.

  • Across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, 84% of respondents were classified as food secure (72% high, 12% marginal) and 16% of respondents were classified as food insecure (9% low, 7% very low)
  • Almost three-quarters (73%) of respondents who had changed their eating habits in the last 12 months reported the changes were, at least partly, due to COVID-19 and lockdown

Confidence in food safety and the food supply chain

  • More than nine in 10 (92%) respondents reported that they had confidence that the food they buy is safe to eat
  • Over three quarters of respondents (78%) reported that they had confidence in the food supply chain
  • Respondents were more likely to report confidence in farmers (90%), and shops and supermarkets (86%) than in take-aways (51%), and food delivery services (39%)

Concerns about food

  • Most respondents (84%) reported they had no concerns about the food they eat, and only 16% of respondents reported that they had a concern
  • Respondents who reported a concern about the food they eat were asked to briefly explain what their concerns related to. Food production methods (29%), environmental and ethical concerns (26%) and food provenance (21%) were the most mentioned concerns

Use-by dates

  • Almost three quarters (71%) of respondents identified the use-by date as the information which shows that food is no longer safe to eat
  • Almost two thirds (64%) of respondents stated that they always check use-by dates before they cook or prepare food. A third (33%) of respondents check use-by dates at least occasionally and just 2% never check use-by dates
  • Less than a third (27%) of respondents reported that they always follow the ‘eat within’  instruction on food

Awareness and trust in the FSA

  • Over nine in 10 respondents (91%) had heard of the FSA
  • Three quarters (75%) of respondents who had at least some knowledge about the FSA trust the FSA to make sure food is safe and what it says it is

Emily Miles, Chief Executive of the FSA, said:

‘The FSA has a unique role in Government - we look after consumer interests when it comes to food. Listening to the voices of consumers and communities is vital to inform our work.

‘It’s encouraging to see that confidence in food safety and supply is high. However, the survey also gives us further critical insight into the negative changes people have had to make to their diets as a result of the pandemic.

‘It’s this type of deep and careful research which is vital in helping us understand and represent the consumer perspective in order to inform better decisions made across government about the food we eat.’

About the survey

Ipsos MORI were commissioned by the FSA to develop and run a new biannual flagship survey, Food and You 2. The survey uses a new methodology, known as ‘push-to-web’, which is primarily carried out online. The new methodology allows us to continue collecting robust data using a random probability sampling approach, while allowing the survey to be run more frequently, to be more responsive to new and emerging issues, and for more people to take part.

Fieldwork for Food and You 2 wave 1 was conducted between July and October 2020. A total of 9,319 adults (16 and over) from 6,408 households across England, Northern Ireland, and Wales completed the survey.

The FSA’s research

Food and You 2 is our latest social science report to be published looking at consumer issues in relation to food. Earlier this week, we published the Food in a Pandemic report which explored people’s experiences of food during COVID-19, covering topics such as food insecurity and the UK food supply. Next week we will be publishing a snapshot poll on ‘use by’ dates to support communications activity on the campaign.

Read the reports

The wave one report and technical report are available in the research section of our website.