Consumer health protection: Over half of the population trusts state authorities

Whether antimicrobial resistance, microplastics, salmonella or aluminium in food - which health risks do the population know about and what is it that worries them? The answers to these questions are provided by the BfR Consumer Monitor, a representative population survey by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR). The result of the tenth edition: Over three quarters of the population consider food in Germany to be safe. At the same time, 54 percent trust the state authorities to protect their health - this is 5 percentage points more than in the previous survey in August 2019. "It is important to us to know people's worries and concerns," says BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel. "Only then can we explain about health risks appropriately and in detail."

Link to Consumer Monitor 02/2020

As a representative survey, the BfR Consumer Monitor provides insights into the question of how the population in Germany perceive health risks every six months. For this survey, around 1,000 people living in private households, and who are at least 14 years old, are interviewed by telephone on behalf of the BfR. The novel coronavirus was spontaneously mentioned as a possible health risk by 1.4 percent of respondents at the time the data was collected in February 2020. Current information on the perception of the novel coronavirus among the population in Germany is available in the special 'BfR-Corona-Monitor' series.

The climate and environmental pollution, an unhealthy or wrong diet, and smoking were again at the top of the list of the most frequently mentioned health risks in this survey in February 2020. For the first time, traffic, high quantities of plastics and political or economic interests were among the ten most frequently spontaneously mentioned issues that could pose a health risk.

Awareness of most health and consumer topics rose slightly overall compared to the previous survey in August 2019. When asked about selected topics, salmonella in food (96 percent), genetically modified food and antimicrobial resistance (93 percent each) still topped the consumer awareness scale.

As in August 2019, microplastics in food and antimicrobial resistance are still the issues that most respondents worry about. Over 60 percent of respondents stated that they were worried about these issues. However, in comparison to the last survey, the population is considerably more worried about aluminium in food packaging: Here, the number of those who are worried has risen by 5 percentage points to 43 percent.

By contrast, carbon monoxide was perceived to be significantly less worrying than in August 2019 - a drop by 11 percentage points to 26 percent. Respondents were also shown to be somewhat less concerned about mycotoxins in food, food hygiene at home and the kitchen germ Campylobacter than they were the year before.

About the BfR

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientifically independent institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Germany. It advises the German federal government and German federal states ("Laender") on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts its own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.

This text version is a translation of the original German text which is the only legally binding version.

Publications - BfR Consumer Monitor 1

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