Attitudes towards the potential threat to health posed by avian flu have hardened among poultry consumers, according to new research by agency MarketTools.
The survey of 1,000 consumers shows that a quarter of people now suspect they could catch bird flu from eating contaminated meat.
The survey was identical to one carried out in October, in the wake of an avian flu scare then (The Grocer November 5, p52). This has given experts a chance to see how opinion has shifted between that scare and the current one.
In the latest survey, the
number of chicken consumers who stated they were eating less chicken in the previous four weeks rose from 6% to 7.5%. The number who believed avian flu would reduce their family’s consumption of poultry grew from 21% to 27%. Consumer awareness of avian flu grew to a full 100%, with 50% very concerned by it, up from 48%.
Information has improved, with consumers confused by media reports falling from 62% to 53%. But confidence in the government to deal with the threat fell from 40% to 35%. Only 55% of consumers agreed or strongly agreed that cooking poultry correctly would ensure it was safe, while 25%, up from 22%, suspected consumption of contaminated meat posed a threat to humans.
Consumers who believed chicken should be clearly marked with a quality mark rose from 91% to 99%.
Giles Shapley, MarketTools business development director, said: “These latest numbers demonstrate that a core proportion of the UK chicken-buying population is still concerned.
“But it is surprising that this has not dramatically grown despite the now close proximity of avian flu. Perhaps the real test will take place if the virus is discovered in the UK.”
Greg Meenehan