A new global study of worry and risk – the Lloyd’s Register Foundation World Risk Poll – also found that 17% of poll respondents suffered significant harm from the food they ate in the two years prior to polling.
Despite global concerns, the UK ranked among the top 20 countries in the world for food safety – 126 out of 142 for the experience of serious hard from eating food.
Commenting on the poll’s results, Markus Lipp from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation said: “The World Risk Poll gives us the first ever global view of people’s attitudes and awareness of the risks posed by unfit food and drink.
Understanding food risks
“By understanding how people view food safety risks, what they worry about and what they never consider, we can create interventions that are relatable and practical so people can act in their interests and keep safe and healthy.”
Genetically modified (GM) food is seen as high-risk by 48% of respondents, who said GM foods would mostly harm people in their country over the next 20 years – a view predominantly held in higher-income countries. In lower-income countries, 42% of people said GM foods would mostly help people in the next 20 years.
Sarah Cumbers, director of evidence and insight at Lloyd’s Register Foundation, said that this poll would help global policy makers that had previously been hampered by a lack of data on on the level and nature of hazards and the prevalence of associated illnesses.
“The results of the World Risk Poll also reveal that food safety authorities need to consider carefully the channels they use to disseminate crucial information if it is to be effective,” she added.
“They should seek out ways to build trust amongst the people most threatened by unsafe food and water, tailoring their messages and the communication routes to vulnerable people according to the different audiences they are addressing.”
The Lloyd’s Register Foundation World Risk Poll, conducted by Gallup as part of its World Poll, is reportedly the first global study of worry and risk across the world.
The research is based on interviews with over 150,000 people in 142 countries, including places where little or no official data exists yet where reported risks are often high.
World Risk Poll: At a glance
- 60% of poll respondents say they were worried about the food they eat
- 51 % were concerned about the safety of the water they drink
- Greatest levels of harm from food occur in East Africa (29 per cent experienced harm) and the Middle East (27% claimed they had experienced harm)
- 17% of poll respondents – equivalent to one billion people worldwide – suffered significant harm from the food they ate in the two years prior to polling
- 14% (equivalent to 823 million people) reported being seriously harmed by the water they drank
- UK ranks 126 out of 142 for the experience of serious harm from eating food