Survey Shows Food-Borne Illness a Top Concern for Australians

The latest Food Insights Questionnaire (FoodIQ) illustrates the food-related concerns and behaviours among Australians.
January 29, 2022

A twice-yearly survey conducted by the University of Adelaide’s Centre for Global Food and Resources (CGFAR) aims to provide valuable insights into the evolving food-related views and behaviours of Australian consumers. The Food Insights Questionnaire (FoodIQ) asks approximately 1,000 Australian food shoppers about:

  • Food costs for the household
  • What influences their food choices
  • Personal food consumption
  • Changes to meat/protein consumption and their reason for the change
  • Food safety concerns
  • Food label awareness and understanding
  • Which sources of information they trust
  • Views and actions on environmental causes

Their latest report illustrates consumers’ attitudes towards food safety incidents and outbreaks.

Food safety insights

  • The most important food issues that consumers identified from a list of 12 options included imported food, food-borne illness incidents from bacteria or other contaminants, and pesticide use or pesticide residues.
  • While food-borne illness is a top concern, less than 10 percent of respondents reported changing their behaviours because of a top food safety issue.
  • With an average score of 5.5 out of 7, consumers reported being relatively confident in the safety of Australia’s food supply.
  • When grocery shopping, consumers note that price, health and nutrition, taste, country of origin and food safety as the most important factors when choosing what to purchase.
  • On a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 meaning unwilling to take any food safety risks and 10 meaning fully willing to take food safety risks, Australians gave an average rating of 4.
  • With regards to food production issues, respondents showed the most concern about the use of pesticides.
  • Respondents who remembered a food product recall in the past 24 months ranged from 44 percent to 70 percent.
  • For consumers who changed their behaviour due to a food recall, most temporarily stopped buying the recalled item, some permanently stopped buying it while other respondents started paying more attention to food labels.

What does this mean for food businesses?

While consumers appear to be confident in the overall safety of the Australian food supply, the survey illustrates that imported food, food-borne illness and pesticide use is a top food issue for Australians. With more consumers growing conscientious of where their food is sourced, what chemicals are being used in their food supply and food recalls, businesses must continue to take the proper steps to ensure food is safe for consumption and be transparent with where they source their ingredients.

With this in mind, implement these strategies to improve your business for food safety-conscious consumers:

  • Source food from reputable suppliers. Try using traceability software so that you know the exact details of where your ingredients come from and, should a food safety issue arise, pinpoint where in the supply chain an issue occurred.
  • Food items can easily get mislabelled, which leads to food recalls. Ensure you have a robust system in place for properly labelling food items.
  • Stay on top of food safety news and make sure everyone on your team is aware of new regulations and procedures related to health and safety measures.

Remember that a food safety incident, such as a food recall or food-borne illness outbreak, can easily deteriorate consumer trust in your business, so make sure that everyone on your team always prioritises safe food handling practices.

The best way to prevent a food safety incident is to ensure that everyone who works with food is properly trained in food safety. The Australian Institute of Food Safety’s (AIFS) nationally recognised Food Safety Courses provide the comprehensive training you need to meet compliance requirements and make sure food is safe to eat. If you need more guidance on your training needs, contact us for more information!