Balance of competencies review: consumer research

Last updated:
2 July 2013
The Agency has carried out consumer research in order to gain an understanding of consumer views on food safety law.


The UK Government is reviewing whether it is better for the UK that food law continues to be made in the EU, or if there would be advantages to setting the rules nationally.

The majority of food law is made in the EU and applies to all EU countries, including the UK. It also applies to food imported from countries outside of the EU.
Where the EU has made a food law the UK (or other countries of the EU) cannot produce any national rules that conflict with it. This is because as well as protecting consumers, food law is to protect the single market and allow free trade across the EU. All food traded within the EU, or entering the EU from countries outside of the EU, has to meet the EU standards.

Key findings

The survey showed that there was little knowledge among consumers of the EU having a role in making food law. Only 42% felt protected by current food law and horse meat has reduced confidence. Around three-quarters preferred food law to be made by the UK, with only 11% preferring the EU. When given further information about EU food law the number preferring EU law doubled.

Perceived advantages of UK law included more direct control, that the UK governments have better understanding of UK needs and that UK standards are higher. Perceived advantages of food law being made in the EU included consistency and common standards.

The full report can be found below.