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Almost 60% of people worried about food safety

A global study of worry and risk – the first-ever Lloyd’s Register Foundation World Risk Poll – has revealed the global state of food and water safety

The first of its kind, the World Risk Poll, shows that most of the world is concerned that they will be harmed by the food they eat every day: more than half of the world’s population, 60% of the world’s people, said they are worried about the food they eat, and 51% are concerned about the safety of the water they drink.

Almost 17% of the survey respondents – equivalent to one billion people worldwide – suffered significant damage from the food they ate in the two years prior to the poll, and nearly as many, 14% or 823 million people were seriously harmed by the water they were drinking.

With around 10% of its respondents reporting serious harm in the last two years, the UK ranks 126 out of 142 for the experience of serious food harm – making Britain one of the top 20 countries in the world for food safety.

The survey was conducted by Gallup as part of its World Poll, with more than 150,000 interviews completed in 142 countries. The World Risk Poll aims to transform our understanding of concern and well-being in order to identify how people around the globe perceive and experience risks, and ultimately to develop a safer world.

“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. 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,” said Markus Lipp from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation.  

The survey shows that the burden of food-related diseases is not spread equally across the world and is highly linked to economic development, with low-and middle-income countries disproportionately affected.

The greatest levels of harm from food occur in East Africa (29% experienced harm) and the Middle East (27% experienced harm). Countries and territories that had experienced the most harm from food were those in the developing world; the top three countries were Liberia (52%), Zambia (51%) and Mozambique (45%).

However, the World Risk Poll reveals that in these regions levels of worry about food are lower than the levels of harm experienced, with East Africa (25% worried) and Middle East (22% worried).