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Food safety

Perception of risks and food safety: what do European consumers think? Level of food safety in Europe From the White Paper on food safety to date Controls in Europe and in Italy “Official control” self-control Organization of the official food control system in Italy Labeling Food additives EU approved food additives Plant protection products (or pesticides or pesticides) Nutritional labeling Nutritional safety Food safety in the home
  • Perception of risks and food safety: what do European consumers think?
  • Food safety level in Europe
  • From the White Paper on food safety to today
  • Checks in Europe and Italy
  • Self control
  • "Official control"
  • Organization of the official food control system in Italy
  • Labeling
  • Food additives
  • EU approved food additives
  • Plant protection products (or pesticides or pesticides)
  • Nutritional labeling
  • Nutritional security
  • Food safety in the home

"Food security exists when all people at any time have physical, social and economic access to nutritious, healthy and sufficient foods to satisfy their dietary and food preferences for an active and healthy life." This is a definition (FAO, 2003) which takes into account the evolution of the meaning of food safety over time and in the various reference contexts.

In western industrialized society there is a wide availability of food both for the great productive potential of the food industries, for the expansion and globalization of the markets, and for the technological innovations of production and conservation of the products. Food safety is therefore linked to a concept of quality and availability of foods whose healthiness is an indispensable and essential prerequisite.

Food safety is also the possibility for everyone to feed adequately and to have access to drinking water, to the extent that everyone can fully express their genetic potential for physical and mental development.

"Hunger means exclusion", wrote Josué de Castro, a famous Brazilian physician activist against world hunger, and added: "exclusion from land, from work, from wages, from income, from life and from citizenship. If a person goes so far as to have nothing to eat, it is because everything else has been denied him. It is a modern form of exile. Of death during life ».

As underlined in the International Nutrition Conference (1992) and the World Food Summit (1996), the availability of healthy and safe food is a fundamental right and a necessary requirement for the promotion and protection of human health. However, despite the fact that our planet produces food in sufficient quantity and quality for its entire population, the number of undernourished people in the world remains high: 820 million in developing countries, 25 million in transition countries and 9 million in industrialized countries (World Food Day 2007).

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Perception of risks and food safety: what do European consumers think?

A Eurobarometer survey conducted in the European Union on consumers' perception of health risks reveals a positive feeling about food; it is natural to associate it with taste and pleasure and choose on the basis of quality, price and taste; we rarely worry about food-related risks or diseases. Eventually the consumer is more concerned about the dangers due to external factors, over which he has little or no control, than for the risks associated with his own behavior or habits: for example, although obesity is immediately indicated as a food-related risk, few worry about gaining weight.

According to most respondents (54%), European authorities take citizens' fears very seriously, while there is skepticism about the priority of consumer health over commercial interests.

The Italians are among the most worried: the new viruses, including avian influenza, pesticides, GMOs and the lack of hygiene in the treatment and preservation of food in restaurants are the issues that most worry them. It was convinced that the hygiene level at home is better and the impossibility of checking what happens in the kitchens of public places generates fear. Anxiety is often a consequence of the media coverage of issues related to food safety, which has already provoked in the past irrational reactions, oversized and also changes in habits. The consumer often minimizes daily risks, while overestimating emergencies. In reality, on the other hand, the greatest dangers derive precisely from carelessness and negligence in handling and domestic conservation.

In fact, FAO and WHO highlight that in industrialized countries the problems of food safety are mainly of microbiological origin, that is, related to contamination of microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi and so on). However, there may also be sanitation problems related to substances (natural toxic compounds) and various chemical contaminants (phytosanitary substances, heavy metals, environmental contaminants and so on) or to physical contaminants (foreign bodies such as glass splinters, nails, stones and so on Street). The refinement of analysis techniques and scientific knowledge has lowered the detection threshold and allowed the identification of infinitesimal traces of contaminants.

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