q uality and safety. Food traceability,. Learning objectives To review, recognise and apply research into consumer insight and confidence with food . To understand the drivers for consumers in relation to food production, processing and purchasing .
To review, recognise and apply research into consumer insight and confidence with food.
To understand the drivers for consumers in relation to food production, processing and purchasing.
To understand the importance of food traceability, safety and quality.
To explore and understand the principles behind three different food assurance schemes for British milk production.
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Section 1: Consumer insight and confidence with food
Section 2: Traceability, safety and quality
Section 3: Case studies – food assurance schemes
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Consumer concerns about food issues
Confidence in our food?
Factors influence product choice
Top priority: food safety
Top 5 factors
Helping the consumer
The way in which our food is produced and processed, as well as how this is communicated and perceived, ultimately determines consumer’s confidence, trust and understanding of farming practices and/or specific food groups and ingredients.
Food safety, contamination or animal disease can drastically affect consumer confidence and ultimately the foods they purchase immediately and in the longer term. Not only could this have an impact on farmers, processors and retailers, it could lead to some consumers having less varied and unbalanced diets.
It is therefore of paramount importance that food is grown, reared, caught and processed to the highest standards and that this is communicated effectively to consumers. This helps to build trust.
Recent research from Mintel (2013) looking at attitudes towards trust in food showed:
49% trust the food industry to provide safe food to eat, with 37% undecided;
42% believed that the food industry is able to react to food scares;
23% agree that the different elements of the food chain work effectively together;
36% feel that food manufactures are aware of where their ingredients originate (34% disagree);
37% disagree that supermarkets are aware of where their ingredients originate.
The findings also illustrate how labelling concerns echo consumer confidence:
40% of adults trust supermarkets and food manufacturers to provide accurate labelling on food packaging;
45% of men are considerably more likely than women (36%) to be positive about the accuracy of on-pack information. This is in line with men being the more likely to agree that the food industry provides food that is safe (men 53% vs women 46%) and also that supermarkets are aware of the origin of their ingredients (men 35% vs women 29%).
Of all the aspects of the food chain people think the government should be accountable for, food safety takes top spot.
Nearly two fifths (38%) of adults consider it the government’s responsibility to ensure that food is safe to eat, which is higher than responsibilities regarding sustainability (29%), health (10%) and promoting sourcing of food from the UK (14%).
In terms of food safety, the British public consider the government (38%) and food manufacturers (39%) to have around the same level of responsibility in providing food that is safe to eat.
The research found that the top five factors which would encourage consumer trust in food were:
British ingredients - 48%
Manufacturing details on food labelling (where and when made) - 47%
Animal welfare certificate - 45%
Product origin on the pack - 43%
No artificial ingredients - 43%.
Supporting the theme of greater consumer confidence in food, the IGD Shopper tracker survey shows that shoppers want to know more about where their food originates.
The survey showed:
82% of shoppers regard how, and 73% where, groceries are produced as important;
41% of shoppers want to know more about the provenance of their groceries;
78% are interested in knowing more about fresh foods such as meat, poultry, fruit, vegetables, dairy, eggs and fish;
41% of shoppers want provenance information available on-shelf, and 39% want it on-pack;
31% of those wanting more provenance information would like website links on product packaging.
This chart shows public attitudes to different food concerns. The price of food is the highest, followed by concerns over the amount of salt in food, food waste, fat and saturated fat.
Issues relating to food production and safety are generally lower than nutritional considerations. However, the issue of where food is from, how it is processed and packaged are still of major interest and determinants of acceptability and purchase.
The chart on the previous page shows:
price is increasingly important in driving product choice, with 41% of shoppers naming it as the most important factor and 90% listing it within their top five influences;
promotions are highly influential with 70% listing it in the top 5 factors;
less importance is placed on healthy options, with only 8% of shoppers naming it as the most important influence and only 47% listing it within the top five;
more shoppers placed familiarity and taste/smell within their top five factors than healthy options;
brand names still have a sway in many purchase decisions, with 33% of shoppers naming in their top 5 influences and 2% as the most important;
ethically produced products were considered least important with 16% of shoppers naming it in their top 5 influences.
Recent research by Which?, highlighted that consumers believed there was a need for clearer information about the types of food choices they should be making.
Six in 10 people (61%) wanted more information on the quality of ingredients used, a similar percentage (58%) on food safety standards and more than half (53%) on where the food was produced.
Two-thirds of people (65%) said food prices have become more important in the current economic climate, followed by quality (35%) and taste (32%). Previous Which? research found that with household budgets under increasing pressure, people are changing their shopping habits, eating out less and looking for special offers.
Source: Future of food report, 2013 Which?
Areas where people think they need more information:
The quality of ingredients used - 61%
Food safety standards - 58%
Where the food is produced - 53%
Nutritional content - 51%
The method used to produce the food - 50%
Animal welfare standards - 50%
The environmental impact of food - 38%
The report: http://press.which.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Future-of-Food-Report-2013_Final.pdf
To help inform consumers more about their food, a number of food assurance, environmental and ethical labelling schemes are now in operation. Some are industry wide, while some my operate by specific retailers.
Source: Future of food report, 2013 Which?
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Extension: Food safety and consumer protection
Traceability is about understanding where a food has been produced and processed through its food chain. For example, this could be where a piece of fruit originates or the location of the dairy farm for a carton of milk.
Traceability is about knowing the stages of production and being able to trace back through the chain.
The consumer is the final link of the food chain, which started at the farm or producer.
Consumers need to build trust in the procedures and processes behind the traceability, linking together the production of food safety and quality.
In addition, there may be other criteria in which the consumer has an interest, such as ensuring the food is organic, vegetarian, specific allergen free, Kosher or Halal. Food traceability standards are employed here to ensure that consumers can have confidence in the food they purchase.
The Food Standards Agency is responsible for improving food safety right through the food chain in the UK.
This includes improving hygiene on the farm and ensuring that human health is not put at undue risk through what is fed to animals.
The Food Safety Act 1990 (as amended) - the framework for all food legislation in Great Britain;
The General Food Law Regulation (EC) 178/2002 - EC legislation on general food safety.
The General Food Regulations 2004 (as amended) provides for the enforcement of certain provisions of Regulation (EC) 178/2002 (including imposing penalties) and amends the Food Safety Act 1990 to bring it in line with Regulation (EC) 178/2002. Similar legislation applies in Northern Ireland.
For more information on general food law, click here.
Food law does not necessarily cover all aspects of the food chain from farm to fork. Therefore food assurance schemes have been developed to give retailers assurance at the farm level and in other ancillary parts of the supply chain.
This development has been given official encouragement because it has the potential to complement regulatory activities.
Main food safety and consumer protection offences created by the Food Safety Act 1990
Section 7: rendering food injurious to health by:
adding an article or substance to the food
using an article or substance as an ingredient in the preparation of the food
abstracting any constituent from the food
subjecting the food to any process or treatment with the intention that it shall be sold for human consumption.
Section 14: selling to the purchaser’s prejudice any food which is not of the nature or substance or quality demanded by the purchaser.
Section 15: falsely describing or presenting food.
Under section 21 in proceedings for an offence under the provisions of Part 2 of the Act (which includes the offences listed above), it is a defence for a food business operator to prove that he took all reasonable precautions and exercised due diligence to avoid the commission of the offence.
Main provisions of the General Food Law Regulation (EC) 178/2002 that apply to food business operators
Safety: Article 14 states that food shall not be placed on the market if it is unsafe. Food is deemed to be unsafe if it is considered to be: injurious to health unfit for human consumption.
The article also indicates what factors need to be taken into account when determining whether food is injurious to health or unfit.
Traceability: Article 18 requires food business operators to keep records of food, food substances and food-producing animals supplied to their business, and also other businesses to which their products have been supplied. In each case, the information shall be made available to competent authorities on demand.
Withdrawal is when a food is removed from the market up to and including when it is sold to the consumer, recall is when customers are asked to return or destroy the product.
Food businesses must also notify the competent authorities (their local authority and the Food Standards Agency). Retailers and distributors must help with the withdrawal of unsafe food and pass on information necessary to trace it.
Food assurance schemes are run as product certification schemes. These schemes use regular independent inspections to check that members are meeting specific standards.
They often use logos on consumer products to indicate they have fulfilled all the requirements. The leading food assurance schemes aim to define the standards that most producers in the sector should meet.Over time, these schemes intend to raise standards to improve the overall standard of the entire sector.
Case study 1: Red Tractor
Case study 2: The LEAF Marque
Case study 3: Independent scheme
Assured Food Standards (AFS) was established in 2000 and was set up to help harmonise the approach to standard setting and inspection throughout the supply chain and to give the public a mark of quality, safe, affordable food that they could recognise and trust. Red Tractor is the public facing mark of the scheme.
The scheme promotes recognition of professionally produced assured food and boosts the reputation of food production in the UK.
This is achieved through establishing the benchmark for production standards and then carrying out regular inspections to ensure that producers, processors and other operators continually meet those standards. These include food safety, animal welfare, the environment and traceability.
All of the Red Tractor assurance schemes operate to the international standard ISO Guide 65, which is the European Standard EN45011.
This guarantees that the independent inspectors are properly trained and sufficiently experienced. In all there are over 450 inspectors working on the Red Tractor scheme and they conduct over 60,000 inspections a year.
This is shown by the Union Jack flag.
The Red Tractor logo tells the consumer that the food has been checked every step of the way - from farm to pack - and can be traced back to the farm source.
Assurance: no weak links in the chain, scheme covers animal feeds, farms, livestock transportation, slaughter process, production methods, compositional standards for items like sausages, burgers.
Food safety: Everyone involved – from farmer to caterer – are experts in their field, trained to handle food safely and responsibly.
Animal welfare: Ensures animals have everything they need for a good quality of life and are treated with compassion by farmers who know what they are doing.
Environment: Makes sure farmers protect the countryside by preventing pollution of watercourses, soil, air and wildlife habitats.
Traceability: Every part of the food supply chain is inspected to ensure food carrying the logo is accounted for and can be traced back to UK farms.
Farmers keep traceability records. Farmers do not spread manure on their fields close to rivers or on land used for grazing to prevent spread of disease.
Animal welfare: The standards require that animals are: handled with care and compassion and checked regularly; they are given medicine promptly after advice from a vet; are fed on safe assured feeds and transported in assured trailers to minimise stress and risk of hurting the animals; are kept in clean and safe housing with animals of a similar size/age and have access to fresh, clean water at all times
Country of origin: By law, most food must be labeled with its country of origin on the label although this is not always easy to find. The Red Tractor logo includes a statement of origin in the flag device and when you see the Union Jack you can be sure the food has come from UK farms.
The Red Tractor Farm Assurance Dairy scheme sets out to maintain, develop and promote Assurance standards within the dairy industry.
The aim is to provide consumers and retailers with confidence about product quality attributes of the milk leaving the farm premises, including food safety, animal welfare and environmental protection.
Red Tractor Farm Assured British milk is produced on farms that are managed by well-qualified and caring stockmen.
Certification to Red Tractor Farm Assurance Dairy standards allows producers to demonstrate that their standards of husbandry and welfare meet nationally agreed levels of best agricultural practice.
For further information, click here.
LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) was set up in 1991 as a result of concern for the future of farming. LEAF promotes environmentally responsible farming, supporting farmers to produce good food, with care and to high environmental standards.
LEAF is an independent charity dedicated to raising the integrity of British food and it advises farmers and growers on how they can meet the strict standards enabling them to display the LEAF marque on their products.
LEAF Marque is a globally recognised, independently certified standard system, developed by LEAF. It is based on LEAF’s Integrated Farm Management principles of sustainable farming.
LEAF’s Integrated Farm Management (IFM) approach combines aspects of traditional farming methods with modern technology, allowing farmers to manage their farms in an informed, professional and caring way. IFM encourages farmers to maintain the highest standards of food production with the minimum environmental impact.
In the UK, there are currently 487 growers farming 223,141 hectares certified to the LEAF Marque standard.
Farmers undergo an inspection of the whole farm against the LEAF Marque Standard to confirm that products have been produced in an environmentally responsible way.
efficient soil management and appropriate cultivation techniques;
the use of crop rotation;
careful choice of seed varieties;
a commitment to animal welfare and wildlife habitats;
recycling on-farm waste and conserving energy;
improving water efficiency and quality;
using pesticides and fertilisers only when absolutely necessary;
maintenance of the landscape and rural communities.
To find out more about the LEAF Marque, follow this link:
The aims of the LEAF Marque are to:
develop and promote Integrated Farm Management (IFM) to farmers as a system of farming that is realistic and achievable, and has a positive effect on farming and the environment. IFM is a cropping and livestock production strategy in which the farmer seeks to conserve and enhance the environment while economically producing safe, wholesome food. Its long term aim is to optimise the needs of consumers, society, the environment and the farmer;
promote the benefits of IFM to consumers and raise awareness of the way many farmers are responding to current concerns about the environment;
encourage the production of wholesome, affordable food, grown with care for the environment by farmers who value their role as custodians of the countryside.
Produce identified with a LEAF Marque logo indicates it has been through an assurance scheme that means it has been produced by farmers while caring for the environment.
The LEAF Marque Standard is an industry recognised global standard that is currently available in 4 languages: Spanish, French, Italian and English. It is a higher level environmental standard and it is a requirement that the producer is a certified full member of an appropriate assurance scheme for each enterprise on the farm.
Following the standards set our through the integrated farm management system, there are many dairy farmers have obtained the LEAF Marque.
Several display this on the cheese they manufacture from the milk they produce.
Some dairy farmers believe that the Marque gives their product a unique selling point, providing consumers reassurance the provenance, as well as environmental care.
The scheme ensures that the produce from LEAF Marque farmers has been farmed with care for the future of our environment, wildlife, countryside, food and animals.
One of the spin offs of doing the LEAF Audit was that it reinforced our policy of buying feed locally – we buy field beans and wheat from neighbours. By using field beans and vastly reducing our reliance on imported soya, we have helped the local economy, reduced our carbon footprint and maintained efficiency. We also believe that we produce better cheese from milk produced from cows fed on field beans.
LEAF Tracks adds a number to the LEAF Marque logo that enables consumers to find out who produced their LEAF Marque certified products, and whether the farm can be visited.
Some retailers operate their own assurance schemes. For example, research conducted by Sainsbury’s on its own customers suggested that they believed that too many logos were confusing so has phased out the use of the Red Tractor logo on pack.
However, Red Tractor standards are being used as part of their wider sourcing standards.
Their milk supply chain allows them to know every farm and farmer they source from, meet their environmental commitments, and continuously improve animal welfare while maintaining a commercially viable, high quality product.
All milk carries their A taste of Britain logo, indicating that it is sourced from Britain.
The work of the Dairy Development Group includes environmental considerations, such as carbon footprint measurements. The carbon footprint project involved an independent environmental consultant auditing each dairy farm. The audits looked at every aspect of the farm and measured inputs such as electricity, feedstuffs, machinery and fuel use.
From each audit a carbon footprint report was produced for individual farms, along with an environmental scorecard. The scorecard identifies areas for improvement and a detailed greenhouse gas emissions reduction programme. Each farmer is then given guidance on how to implement these.
The project found that some of the highest yielding farms are not the most carbon intensive.
Through the scheme they have demonstrated how more efficient farms can be better for the environment as well as being more successful businesses.
Consumer insight and confidence with food
Which aspect of the food chain did most people think the government should be accountable for?
Promoting sourcing of food from the UK
Ensuring food is safe to eat
What was listed as the top factor which would encourage consumer trust in food?
Animal welfare certificate
Product origin on the pack
No artificial ingredients
What does research show as being the most important factor influencing consumers product choice?
Quality or performance
Taste or smell
What does research show as being the least important factor influencing consumer product choice?
Use by or sell by date
Ethically produced or eco friendly
What environmental and ethical labelling schemes are people most aware of?
Traceability, safety and quality
Who is responsible for improving food safety right through the food chain in the UK?
Food Standards Agency
Which of the following is the framework for all food legislation in Great Britain?
The General Food Law Regulation (EC) 178/2002
The General Food Regulations (2004)
Food Hygiene Regulations (2006)
The Food Safety Act (1990) as amended
Which of the following is NOT an offence under food law and regulations?
Falsely describing or presenting food
Labelling, advertising and presentation of food which is misleading
Being a member of a food assurance scheme
Placing a food which is unsafe on the market
Who must food businesses notify if withdrawal or recall of a food product is required?
The European Commission
The Food Standards Agency
The Food Standards Agency and their Local Authority
Which of the following does not describe traceability?
Traceability is understanding where a food has been produced and processed through its food chain.
Traceability could describe where a piece of fruit originates or the location of the dairy farm for a carton of milk.
Traceability is knowing the stages of production and being able to trace back through the chain.
Product certification schemes that use regular independent inspections to check that members are meeting specific standards.
Case studies – food assurance schemes
What food assurance scheme does this logo represent?
The LEAF Marque
Sainsbury’s Dairy Development Group
Which of the following is not part of The LEAF Marque Integrated Food Management Scheme.
Crop health and protection
Which scheme carries the ‘A taste of Britain’ logo?
Sainsbury’s Dairy Development Group
The LEAF Marque
What language is The LEAF Marque Standard not available in?
How many inspectors work on the Red Tractor scheme?
Correct. Well done.
This resource has been developed by the British Nutrition Foundation and has been supported by the Agriculture Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) milk sector organisation – DairyCo.