Third party food safety certification vital for consumers

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food safety, Food

Evidence that food product safety has been verified by a third party certification scheme is more important to consumers than brand name, proof of traceability or government inspection, said new research.

A study by Michigan State University on behalf of risk management company DNV has found that US consumers are both highly aware of food safety issues and strongly prefer to see products labelled as safety certified.

These were some of the conclusions by researchers from the university after surveying a wide cross-section of over 400 consumers from across the US.

"Consumers are not only aware of food safety issues they are actually changing their shopping habits due to food safety concerns,"​ said Dr Chris Peterson, director of the Product Center at MSU. "Nearly half of the consumers we surveyed indicated a change in shopping patterns."

Consumer advice

He added that higher price alone is not a direct signal of safer food in the minds of consumers.

"Even brand name recognition is not the most powerful indicator of safety,"​ said Peterson. “Voluntary third party certification compares favourably with mandatory government inspection and slightly ahead of traceability labelling in the mind of the consumer. In fact, most consumers would advise the food industry to invest proportionately more in certification programs than in government inspection or traceability."

Kathy Wybourn, DNV director of food safety, said it was vital for companies to understand how consumers evaluate safety signals and where they place their trust.

“A certification label has strong positive meaning to the consumer in regard to food safety, and that conclusion itself is a signal to everyone involved in the food supply chain, be it growers or manufacturers or retailers, to intensify efforts to adopt clear and meaningful independent safety certification,”​ she said.

Related topics: Suppliers

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