Public sceptical over foodservice standards

The public’s trust in the food served in takeaways and restaurants is far lower than for food sold in shops.

More than twice as many people trust food bought in shops than trust takeaways and deliveries despite the huge growth in home delivery experienced during the pandemic, a new Trust in Food Index has found.

Launched this week by Red Tractor and YouGov, the annual index surveyed 3,500 adults across the UK. It found that while 86% of people trust food bought in a local speciality shop like a butcher or fishmonger and 78% trust supermarket food, trust falls to 70% for restaurants and just 37% for food bought as a takeaway or delivery.

Red Tractor chair Christine Tacon suggested the trust deficit was due to a lack of visible assurance and certification schemes in out of home settings. “Crucially, the parts of the UK food industry where those standards and schemes are less visible to consumers – such as takeaways and food service businesses – have much lower levels of trust,” she said. 

Tim Smith, chair of the government-appointed independent Trade and Agriculture Commission, said the results showed the government and food industry must do more to improve transparency in foodservice and out of home supply chains.

Half (48%) of those surveyed referred to high standards and regulations as the reason they trust food produced in the UK.

While 84% of UK consumers trust food from Britain, levels of trust in food from outside the UK vary markedly. Only 25% of Brits trust food from the USA and just 11% trust food from China.

Australia, with which the UK government recently agreed the principles of a free trade deal, also suffers from relatively low levels of trust at just 58%. The government has faced criticism from farmers and campaign groups for undermining British welfare and environmental standards in the Australia agreement.

Ireland and New Zealand maintain the highest levels of trust amongst UK consumers, followed by leading EU food producers such as Sweden, Germany, Italy, Denmark and the Netherlands.

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