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Greek Social Issues 8-2013: “Nutrition – Confidence in food quality, 2013”

Thursday, 31 Oct 2013

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This analysis by Public Issue presents the opinion of consumers concerning the quality of food and their confidence in specific categories of products. It is an issue of concern to society as a whole, since it is directly linked to personal safety and public health.
Generally speaking, consumer confidence in foodstuffs remains low. Today, 1 in 2 Greeks (49%) believes that food quality is worse than in the last five-year period, whilst 1 in 6 (17%) are of the opinion that it has remained at the same level (Figure 1). More particularly, consumers have the most confidence in bread and bakery products (57%), in oil (55%) and, marginally, in fish and seafood (49%). Next come cheeses and cheese products (47%), milk and yogurts (44%), meat (38%), fruit and vegetables (35%). Consumers have the least confidence in confectionery (34%), poultry and eggs (32%), juices (30%) and soft drinks (20%) (Figure 2). In the case of soft drinks, juices and confectionery, the lack of confidence may be due to the preservatives they contain and the general attitudes that prevail regarding what is and what is not ‘healthy’. Fruit and vegetables are discredited primarily on account of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, whilst in the case of poultry, eggs and meat, the lack of confidence can for the most part be attributed to the food scandals of the past five years, such as eggs contaminated with salmonella, dioxin contaminated meat (2008-2011) and the recent fraud that came to light following the discovery of horsemeat of unknown origin in beef products in European markets (2013).
In a previous survey by Public Issue (2006), citizens’ views of food quality were even more negative. In 2006, 3 in 4 respondents (74%) stated that the quality of food at that time was worse than in the previous five-year period (Figure 3), and correspondingly their confidence in the separate categories of products was lower (with the exception of meat, which remained more or less unchanged) (Figure 4). However, the higher percentages of that survey should not create the impression that the quality of food is improving and consumer confidence is gradually being restored, for two important reasons. First, because the previous survey in 2006 covered a decade, whilst the 2013 survey only the last five years, and second, because public opinion in the past two decades for the first time faced issues that gave rise to strong distrust with respect to the quality of food (such as the introduction of genetically modified food on the market, in 1996) as well as scandals that shook the confidence of consumers, such as mad cow disease (1996) and dioxin-contaminated poultry (1999).

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