As part of the UK national action plan on antimicrobial resistance (AMR), the Food Standards Agency (FSA) is working to improve the scientific evidence base around consumer perceptions and understanding. A consumer survey was carried out in 2016 and 2019, and replicated in 2021, to understand current views and awareness, and to identify any changes over time.
A series of questions were run in an online omnibus, broadly matching the surveys run in 2016 and 2019, in order to understand changes in awareness and attitudes over time. A sample of 2,555 UK residents aged 16-75, representative of the UK adult online population, took part in the survey. The sample was boosted in Scotland in order to provide sufficient sample data to Food Standards Scotland.
- Less than a third of respondents had heard of the term antimicrobial resistance (26%), and only 11% had heard of the acronym ‘AMR’.
- Public awareness of antimicrobial resistance has significantly increased by 10%, from 16% in 2016, however awareness of ‘AMR’ remained unchanged at around a tenth (11%).
- Very few respondents were able to articulate the difference between antimicrobial and antibiotic resistance.
- Around two thirds (65%) of respondents said they were concerned about antimicrobial resistance from people taking too many antibiotics, decreasing from 71% in 2019 and 72% in 2016. Levels of concern about antimicrobial resistance within the food chain is lower at 58%, and have fallen since 2016 (from 62%) but have moderately increased since 2019 (from 55%).
- Almost two fifths (39%) of respondents felt the ‘overuse of antimicrobials / antibiotics by doctors and patients’ was the biggest contributor to an increase in human infections with antimicrobial / antibiotic resistant bacteria.
- Respondents were marginally less concerned about the risk of antimicrobial resistance from food imported from the EU (51%) or produced in the UK (48%), than they were about food imported from countries outside of the EU (58%). However, this difference is seen in equivalent questions on food poisoning, suggesting general concerns regarding the safety of food from other countries outside the EU, rather than specific AMR concerns.