NEWS

Four-member family needs half a million drachmas every month

The informed consumer remains the best weapon in maintaining high safety and quality standards in food products. In light of Tuesday’s World Day of Nutrition, European consumer unions are launching a pan-European campaign – featuring a rhino on its logo – in the framework of the European Union for food safety. Studies show that consumers are more watchful after the recent cases of diseases that have affected animals and other links of the food chain, and theoretically are willing to pay more for quality products, although in practical terms their purchasing power does not allow them. According to a recent study by INKA, a consumer safety watchdog, a four-member family in Greece needs 535,892 drachmas per month to cover the minimum of expenses required to sustain a decent lifestyle. Debates, informative conferences, printed material, a network of teachers who will teach nutrition courses to students, as well as a CD-ROM and an Internet site will be used in this pan-European campaign so that consumers are educated on food preservation, preparation and consumption. Consumers are often unaware of the basic rules of food preservation, remarked H. Houris, president of INKA, during a news conference. The findings of the INKA study also show an increased alertness on the part of Greek consumers after the recent breakout of diseases in the food chain, such as the foot-and-mouth disease. The vast majority of consumers (89 percent) are vigilant about genetically modified (GM) food products, followed closely by awareness of mad cow disease (86 percent), pesticides (82 percent), dioxins (81 percent), children’s food and snacks (73 percent), hormones (72 percent), preservatives (65 percent), radiation in food products (60 percent), fast food (58 percent), and food poisoning (57 percent). Quality food products, however, usually come at higher prices, and while consumers often claim they are willing to pay more for them, in practice they often cannot afford those higher prices. Based on the findings of the INKA study, 1,004,778 Greeks already face difficulties in purchasing food products, and 61 percent of Greeks deem that food items affect the cost of living more than any other type of expense. The findings also show that the minimum necessary income for a four-member family is 535,000. These conditions have led 39 percent of Greeks to make their daily purchases of food products based on prices, while only 16 percent declare themselves satisfied with prices of products. This is largely due to the removal of about 450 advertising billboards of all sizes and shapes, made simple by a new law passed this year which enables EAXA to circumvent red tape in the case of illegal installations. If the owner does not remove the boards, we do, Kalantidis said. There can be no delay.