Food and You Waves 1 and 2: secondary data analysis published

Last updated:
8 July 2014
FSA survey data indicates that socio-demographic variables such as age, gender and ethnicity are associated with reported food safety practices, but socio-economic variables such as income, education and housing tenure, are not. A report, which is published today, details secondary data analysis exploring domestic food safety practices using FSA Waves 1 and 2 Food and You data.

The 'Understanding domestic food safety practices' report can be found via the link below. Further analysis has explored the relationship between food safety and healthy eating practices. The report detailing this work is due to be published in the next few weeks.

About the Food and You survey

Food and You is a random probability survey comprising about 3,000 interviews across the UK at each wave. The survey is designed to explore reported behaviours, attitudes, and knowledge surrounding food safety issues, and nutrition in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and is an important vehicle for measuring progress against the FSA’s strategy. More about the survey can be found via the link below.

Domestic food safety practices

The key findings on food safety practices in the home can be found below.

Social and economic predictors

Those most likely to report food safety practices in line with FSA recommendations are:

  • women
  • aged under 65 years
  • living in Northern Ireland
  • of white ethnicity
  • married or cohabiting

Furthermore, people in households with young children (under the age of five) are more likely to report behaviours in line with recommended food safety practice than those with older or no children.

The results suggest that the extent to which reported behaviours are in line with recommended practice is related to social-demographic variables (such as age, gender and ethnicity), but not socio-economic variables (such as income, education, and housing tenure).

Current and future sources of information

Half of those who currently access information on preparing and cooking food safely, receive this information from retailers and food producers, with slightly fewer citing TV and radio, friends and family, or books and newspapers. Men and those in the oldest age group (65+ years) are most likely to say they do not currently look for information on food safety. In the future, it is likely that the internet will be an increasing source of information on food safety, particularly for those aged 16-34 years.

Knowledge and attitudes

While there is likely to be a link between knowledge and reported food safety behaviour, there is little evidence of an association between attitudes and reported behaviour. It is not clear how social desirability bias is implicated in the proposed link between knowledge and behaviour (people who know what recommended practice is, report practice in line with knowledge rather than their actual behaviour).

Food hygiene rating schemes

A good food hygiene rating is considered important by around a quarter of people across gender, age and county of residence. However, active use of a food hygiene rating scheme is much lower, apart from in Northern Ireland where a similar proportion value a good score and use a scheme. Use of food hygiene rating schemes declines with age – only 4% of those aged 65 years and over use food hygiene rating schemes compared with 14% of 16-34 year olds, and 10% of 35-64 year olds. This pattern across the age groups persists when frequency of eating out is taken into account – the pattern was the same for those who did and did not report eating out in the past seven days.

In the home and eating out

People who used a food hygiene rating scheme to check a catering outlet’s hygiene standards were more likely to report behaviours which were in line with recommended food safety practice at home. Use of a food hygiene rating scheme was not related to how safe people perceived eating out to be compared to eating at home.