For the inaugural World Food Safety Day June 7, Mérieux NutriSciences and bioMérieux conducted an international consumer survey to better understand consumer perception and behaviors towards food safety in four countries: 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% of respondents in China declared that they are confident in the food they consume, 93% in India, and 90% in the United States. In France, however, only 65% declared themselves to be confident in the food they consume, with 52% saying they do feel enough informed about the safety of the food they consume. Indians (86%), Americans (80%), and Chinese (77%) feel well informed about this topic.
In terms of behavior, the “best before” date is the most important criteria in India (68%) and the U.S. (61%). The best before date is considered a guarantee for only 33% of the French, focusing mainly on the origin, the traceability (71%), the composition of the product (63%), and the existence of quality labels (41%).
The brand of the product is not considered as an important guarantee of food safety in France (11%), as it is for those in China, India, and the U.S. 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, but not even listed in the top 3 in India and 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 bioMérieux Industrial Microbiology Unit at Executive Vice President Nicolas Cartier.
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) most worry the Chinese (89%), Indians (81%), and French (78%), but concern only 64% of Americans.
“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 Mérieux NutriSciences President & CEO Philippe Sans.
This implies major behavioral changes in many countries. Regarding the packaging, 92% of the French, 87% of Indians, 83% of Americans, and 72% of Chinese are willing to accept the evolutions of less individual packaging, less plastic, and more returnable glass. However, a minority of French (45%) and Americans (49%) would pay more for healthier and safer food. Indians (72%) and Chinese (73%) would gladly consent.
The ODOXA survey was conducted between April 30 and May 14, 2019 among a representative sample of those 18 and over of 1000 French, 1002 Chinese, 1005 Americans, and 1005 Indian people.