Europeans don't trust junk food, says European survey

April 7, 2004

Brussels, 06 Apr 2004

The EU 'trust in food' project, funded under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), has published the results of a study showing that Europeans' trust in processed-food, meat and 'junk food' is low, with only one in five consumers trusting the quality of burgers from fast food outlets and meals from restaurants.

On the other hand, the six-nation survey showed that consumers tend to trust fruit and vegetables. Levels of trust in various foods varied from country to country, with the British being the most trusting consumers followed by the Danes and Norwegians. Italy and Portugal represent the low-trust regions, with Germany not far behind.

'Today, consumers expect healthy and safe food and increasingly demand to know where their food comes from. That is why we are focusing on a new 'fork to farm' approach in the EU's Research Programmes, focusing on consumers' interests and points of view on food,' said European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin. 'Food production must meet consumers' expectations as well as environmental, health and competitiveness objectives. This requires an ambitious research agenda with strong public-private cooperation at the European level.'

The research showed that that between one third and one quarter of consumers feel that despite increasing prices, the taste and quality of food, as well as farming methods, nutrition and safety have deteriorated over time.

The most pessimistic are the Italians and the Portuguese, up to 80 per cent of whom believe that prices, taste and quality have worsened over the past 20 years.

In all countries, a low percentage of consumers were found to trust either the food-processing industry, supermarket chains or farmers to tell the truth about a food scare. The highest levels of trust were placed in consumer organisations, food experts and governmental bodies.

The British scored highest on a 'trust in food index' and are the most optimistic with regards to the development of food over recent decades. 'However', states that report, 'the high levels of trust in food found in Great Britain should be understood as a positive response to the measures taken in the wake of the Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy epidemic (BSE, also known as 'Mad Cow Disease') and other food scares.'

Portuguese consumers are the most pessimistic with regard to the development of food quality over time, while German consumers' general scepticism is compensated by purchasing strategies that favour safe food.

The next phase of the project will be to analyse the development of food and consumer policy in the EU, focusing especially on consumer interest in European food regulation. To read the report: Trust in Food in Europe. A Comparative Analysis, please visit:

For further information on the thematic priority on 'food quality and safety' in FP6, please visit:

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities

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