Pesticides are EU citizens' top food-related health concern

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A Eurobarometer about EU citizens' general fears and fears about food shows that 63% are concernced about pesticide residues in fruit and vegetables and 62% about bird flu type viruses.

The Eurobarometer survey results show that environmental pollution (61%) and car accidents (51%) are the health concerns that the largest proportion of the population considers likely to affect them personally. Forty-nine percent are afraid of a serious illness and 42% think that their health could be damaged by the food they eat or by other consumer goods. 

As to food safety, the survey results show high levels of concern about:

  • pesticide residues in fruit, vegetables and cereals (63%), 
  • new viruses like avian influenza (62%), 
  • residues in meats like antibiotics and hormones (62%), 
  • unhygienic conditions in food handling outside the home, such as in food processing plants, shops or restaurants (62%),  
  • pollutants like mercury or dioxins (59%), 
  • genetically modified products in food or drinks (58%) and 
  • additives like colours, preservatives or flavourings used in food or drinks (57%). 

According to the survey, the Greeks, Italians and Cypriots are the biggest worriers about food contamination issues whereas the Dutch, Finns and Swedes worry the least. 

Consumer groups (32%), physicians or doctors (also 32%) and scientists (30%) are considered as the most trusted information sources regarding serious food risks, ahead of public authorities (22%) and the media (17%). The citizens trust food manufacturers (6%), farmers (6%) and supermarkets or shops (3%) the least.

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