Research projects -

Research projects

We have commissioned independent research to assess the proportion of food businesses that are displaying their food hygiene ratings since 2011. This report provides the findings from the 2018 wave of research making comparisons to previous years where possible.
The research assessed the proportion of food businesses displaying food hygiene ratings by using mystery shopping audits.
The Total Diet Study (TDS) represents the average UK diet and is used to estimate the dietary exposure of the general UK population to a range of chemicals in food and make assessments on the safety and/or nutritional quality of food.
Background The key principle of a Total Diet Study (TDS) is that it is representative of the whole diet.
Results available
We run an annual consumer attitudes survey on the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) to track consumer awareness of the scheme, attitudes towards it and the use of the ratings over time.
The survey moved from a biannual basis to an annual basis for Wave Six onwards. The next survey is due to take place in October 2019.
Results available
We have conducted research which estimates the impact of food business compliance on food safety.
About this research Estimating the direct impact of food business hygiene compliance on food safety is challenging due to a variety of reasons including:
Background Tackling AMR is a high priority area for the UK government as well as a concern worldwide, and until recently AMR research has largely focused on farm animal and human health.
Key findings from research on sampled scones produced in Northern Ireland (NI) shows wide variations in portion size (g) and nutritional information (energy, sugar, fat, saturated fat, fibre and salt). The results will inform targeted interventions within the bakery sector, supported by technical expertise from academic institutions, to increase the availability of healthier products in local coffee shops, cafes and bakeries.
Background Obesity is one of the most important public health challenges currently facing Northern Ireland (NI) with 64% of adults and 27% of children aged 2-15 years old here classified as overweight or obese.
Results available
This programme aims to identify Campylobacter contamination and production practices within the UK broiler population to potentially target ways to controlling Campylobacter in slaughterhouses.
Background The monitoring programme aims to identify differences in prevalence and/or levels of Campylobacter contamination and production practices within the UK broiler population which could potentially be used to targ
This survey looks at the proportion of Campylobacter jejuni and C. coli strains isolated from year 3 of the FSA’s retail chicken survey that were resistant to a range of antimicrobial agents.
Background The development and spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a public health concern worldwide.
Results available
This project studied how Campylobacter is transferred from live birds to carcasses during processing in slaughterhouses. The study also looked into methods for reducing this cross-contamination, and reviewed methods of disinfection.
Background Campylobacter has been and remains a priority for the Food Standards Agency and it is well understood that a major source of Campylobacter in food is through contaminated poultry meat.
Results available
A multi-stage research project to better understand consumers’ concerns in relation to food, to inform the development of our strategy for 2015-2020.
We completed an omnibus survey of 2,060 adults to help us identify the most important food-related consumer concerns. After the omnibus survey, we held a number of citizens' forums. These forums:
Results available
Insight project building on a 2015 consumer segmentation to identify different consumer attitudes to food safety, hygiene and preparation. This research focused on improving understanding of attitudes and behaviours towards a wide set of food related topics.
This research was conducted in three stages:
Results available
Research exploring interest in, expectations around and needs in relation to online display of Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) information on food ordering websites in Northern Ireland. The research involved deliberative ‘Citizens’ Forum’ workshops and a subsequent online forum.
Key findings We are aware from previous research that food hygiene is not a “top of mind” consideration for the majority of the general population when purchasing food, but this situation becomes more complicated w
Results available
Independent research assessing the effectiveness of food withdrawal and recall processes in the UK food retail sector.
Background  In 2016, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) commenced this review to better understand how industry and enforcement authorities complied with their legal obligations to ensure un
Results available
Research investigating E. coli O157 high level excretion (super-shedding) from cattle and the threat it poses to human health across Scotland, England and Wales.

Background This research was funded to investigate Escherichia coli O157 high level excretion (super-shedding) from cattle and the threat this poses to human health.
Independent research exploring Northern Ireland (NI) consumers’ perceptions of product reformulation (to reduce levels of sugar, saturated fat, salt) and reduction in portion size by the NI food industry.
Background In January 2018, we commissioned 2CV and Community Research to conduct independent research to explore Northern Ireland consumers’ perceptions of food product improvement by the food industry in NI among identi
Research study among small and medium-sized (SME) food businesses (FBOs) to measure awareness of and compliance with food safety guidelines and regulations.
This research found that SME FBOs are largely confident that they can find and access the information they need on food safety and hygiene regulations (86%).
Results available
This research aimed to understand business’ awareness of available information, perceived relevance and appeal of information, impact of materials currently used, format and channel preferences for guidance and identify any gaps in existing support and priorities for alteration.
This research found that, despite the high positivity around the range of support and guidance materials provided by the FSA, awareness that these are from the FSA is fairly low.
Results available
Research tracking awareness EU Food Information for Consumers (FIC) allergen information regulations before and after they came into force in December 2014. The regulations concern how allergy information is displayed on prepackaged and loose food as well as how it is provided in restaurants, takeaways and all eating establishments.
This research found that awareness of FIC increased significantly to 74% (from 47% in the pre-wave) among Allergy UK members, reflecting the success of publicity and media campaigns in highlighting the new regulations to the target audience.
Results available
The overall aim of this research was to explore consumer awareness, understanding, and perceived risks associated with chemicals in food and how best to communicate the risks attached to these.
The findings in this report are drawn from four qualitative Citizens Forums and an online survey of 2,708 consumers on the FSA Consumer Panel. Participants’ overall level of knowledge about chemicals in food was limited.
Results available
Research exploring how we can help reduce food poisoning cases by helping the public engage with food safety, and motivating adoption of safer practice.
This research:
Results available
Research monitoring our marketing campaign activity.
We monitored our marketing campaign activity using TNS BMRB’s online omnibus surveys between 2015 and 2017. 
Results available
Research into consumer attitudes and behaviours around consumption of rare burgers, that is burgers that are not fully cooked through and still pink inside.
Research aims This research aimed to: understand and quantify current attitudes and behaviours around rare burger consumption
Results available
A synthesis report identifying cross-cutting and emerging trends across three research projects: Efficacy of Recalls (2017), Regulating our Future (2016) and Transparency: understanding public views and priorities (2017).
Key findings Consumers and food business operators (FBOs) typically do not look beyond their immediate contexts and needs when it comes to food issues. Consumers and FBOs have high levels of trust in the
Results available
Research exploring what the public think being transparent about food means, what their priorities are in terms of greater transparency, how they think transparency should be enacted and who they see as being responsible for being transparent.
The research focused on seven food issues within transparency:
Results available
Meat and offal (liver and kidney) were collected at slaughter from 112 farm animals predominantly from areas of high geochemical lead.

Background Lead is a naturally occurring chemical compound that is present in soil, water and the atmosphere and therefore it is likely to occur at various levels in a wide range of foods including meat and offal.