Public anxiety over GM foods is waning, according to the latest survey into attitudes towards food commissioned by the Food Standards Agency. Of 3,120 people interviewed in autumn 2001, only 5% spontaneously mentioned GM as a concern. The percentage of respondents who expressed concern only after being prompted dropped from 43% in 2000 to 38% in 2001. The results will be welcomed by the Agricultural Biotechnology Council set up last week to present the friendly face of GM to industry and consumers. However, FSA chairman Sir John Krebs cautioned against reading too much into the figures: "All the surveys over the past year and a half suggest public concerns over GM have diminished. "But this may be because there is not much GM labelled food on the shelves any more. What people are really waiting for is the result of the field scale trials next year." The survey, conducted by Taylor Nelson Sofres on behalf of the FSA, revealed that consumers were most anxious about the safety of meat, with food poisoning and BSE still the major issues of concern. There was also a marked increase in awareness of and confidence in the FSA as an institution. The publication of the survey coincides with the launch of a major new FSA campaign to improve hygiene in catering establishments, after new figures revealed that food poisoning costs the economy more than £350m a year. The first phase of the FSA's five-year £20m campaign includes a series of TV, radio and press ads with the strapline, Food Hygiene: It's in your hands. Booker, Bestway, Landmark and 3663 have pledged to support the campaign with posters and inserts in customer magazines, urging those in the catering trade to wash their hands before preparing food, to cook heat and chill food properly and to avoid cross contamination. Speaking at the launch, Krebs said: "Research shows that many people know the basics of food hygiene but simply can't be bothered to apply them." More than 12% of respondents in the TNS survey claimed to have suffered from food poisoning over the last 12 months. {{NEWS }}