Horsemeat scandal dents consumer confidence in food industry
Research by consumer watchdog Which? has found that six in 10 consumers have changed their shopping habits as a result of the horsemeat scandal.
Which? found that consumer trust in the food industry has dropped by 24% in the wake of the scandal with 30% now buying less processed meat and 24% buying fewer ready meals containing meat or choosing vegetarian options.
Furthermore, two thirds of people surveyed said they did not think the Government had been giving enough attention to enforcing labelling laws, with 50% not that confident ingredient information was accurate. 44% said they now looked at ingredient labelling more on food containing meat, with 83% agreeing that country of origin labelling should be required on meat products.
Confidence in food safety has also taken a hit, dropping from nine in 10 feeling confident when buying products in the supermarket before the scandal broke to seven in 10 feeling confident now.
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: "The horsemeat scandal exposed the need for urgent changes to the way food fraud is detected and standards are enforced. These serious failings must be put right if consumers are to feel fully confident in the food they are buying once more.
"Ministers must ensure that everyone involved, including their own departments, the FSA, the food industry and local authorities, are crystal clear about their responsibility to protect consumers and are properly equipped to do so."
Which? is urging the government to introduce a number of measures to tackle fraud in the food industry. These include increasing food fraud surveillance work and making it better co-ordinated, and introducing tougher enforcement measures and tighter legislation.
The watchdog is also calling for improvements in food labelling and for food labelling policy to be taken way from Defra and handed back to the Food Standards Agency which also deals with enforcement.
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