NEWS

Greek consumers fussy about their food

When seven people were hospitalized in Athens on Tuesday after eating greens mixed with a poisonous plant, it seemed to confirm the rumor that food poisoning is on the increase. Greek consumers are extremely fussy about the quality of the food they eat and anxious about health hazards arising from food, according to a Eurobarometer poll. In February Eurostat, the official European Union statistical service, conducted a survey into how citizens of the 25 EU member states deal with food crises and health hazards from food. The survey revealed the extent to which Greek views differed from those of other respondents. For instance, 65 percent of Greeks see quality as the basic criterion on which to choose food, compared with 42 percent of other Europeans. For 42 percent of Europeans in the sample, price was the basic criterion. A majority of Greeks (53 percent) are interested – theoretically at least – in the effects of obesity on health. This puts them fourth on the list of EU members who share that concern. Greek consumers are more worried than others surveyed about fertilizer residues, food allergies and the use of genetically modified organisms, though 57 percent of them say they trust the information supplied by official inspection agencies, which they believe react immediately and effectively to food crises. Greek consumers also trust the scientific community with regard to information about food issues. As for other Europeans, 80 percent appear to be informed about the existence of new EU regulations relating to food safety and consumers’ rights. Two-thirds of the respondents said that food produced within the EU was safer and better than food produced elsewhere. And 60 percent of the sample said current legislation was very strict, while fewer (46 percent) thought that specific rules were actually complied with. Only 38 percent agreed that food safety had been improved in the previous decade. Fewer than half (47 percent) believed that while national authorities act correctly, they tend to protect the economic interests of the food industry rather than consumers’ health. Half (50 percent) said they might change their dietary habits in response to media revelations about a food problem. But 40 percent were indifferent to or did not react in any particular way to revelations about food.