FMD's fires burn export prospects FMD may be no risk to human health ­ but it's appalling PR for our export trade and has inflicted damage in the US, as our global straw poll reveals Exporters are right to fear that overseas sales of all UK food will suffer as international shopper confidence in our food drops as a result of the foot and mouth epidemic. The Grocer this week carried out a straw poll of shopper attitudes across the world to Britain's FMD crisis. We interviewed shoppers at supermarkets in Brighton and Buxton in the UK, Hørsholm in Denmark and at Princeton, New Jersey in the US. UK shoppers are backing British meat as are the Danish, while many US shoppers are avoiding our food altogether. UK exporters had reported anecdotal evidence of shopper panic. And when questioned by The Grocer this week, US shoppers said they were almost frightened of British food and determined to shun it ­ not just meat. The BSE crisis had left a bitter taste in many of their mouths, with the two diseases often confused in shoppers' minds. In Denmark, most shoppers polled had not considered avoiding British food despite seeing images of burning livestock carcases on TV. Most customers at the country's largest multiple retailer, Dalgaard Supermarke at Hørsholm, north of Copenhagen, were more concerned with animal welfare and that the thousands of buried animals could pollute the ground water in the UK. They all had sympathy with the plight of the British farmers and most were still buying British. However, in the UK, shoppers were largely critical of the government which they thought had been too slow to react to the crisis. It also came under fire for not vaccinating animals ­ a move most thought would have averted the disease. Most had not changed their eating habits. Their comments back up last week's poll by the National Consumer Council which revealed that 67% of consumers believed the government was not doing enough to address the future of farming and food production. However, only 23% said that they would consider changing their eating habits. Quotes: The whole thing is a disgrace, but it hasn't put me off British food. I eat what I want, so it hasn't had any effect on my eating habits. In my opinion the government has handled it poorly. I don't see why they have to slaughter all the animals when they could vaccinate, like every other country does. I don't think the government reacted until it was too late.' Porter Ron Stanford, 65, Brighton, UK I'm not sure of the difference between FMD and mad cow disease. I won't dream of avoiding British food or drink though ­ espcially myT-bone steak or bottle of Guinness.' Student Mads Jarlshøi, 16, Denmark I would definitely not buy any British meat products after seeing all the pictures. I don't watch much television, but from what I read in the paper, it wouldn't affect me buying American meat. I don't buy other British food products ­ I usually buy American ­ but I don't think this situation wouldstop me from buying them in the future.' Accountant Susan Rauth, 41, US It hasn't put me off British food at all. I think the images have been good as it gives people living in towns a chance to see what's really going on at the farms. The government's handling of the situation has been pretty poor. It was too slow and uncoordinated.' Gardener Susan Finch, 59, Brighton, UK My reaction to this whole thing is that although it's a very real problem, it hasn't affected my purchasing because I normally don't buy any British food products. But if I was given the choice, after seeing all the coverage about hoof and mouth disease, I don't think I'd buy any meat or cheese products from the UK right now.' Survey researcher Karen Cybulski, 37, US I was disgusted by the graphic pictures showing the piles of dead cows, and now I will never be able to enjoy red meat again. I would not buy British milk products, or anything with beef by-products either, because of mad cow disease. Even though the government says hoof and mouth doesn't transfer to humans, I don't believe everything they say.' Medical assistant Bridget Piazza, 62, US I am not convinced that eating English meat is safe and I have stopped eating English lamb because of foot and mouth disease. To me it seems that nobody has learned from the outbreak in 1967 when the disease was contained at an earlier stage. The government didn't want to know and reacted a little too late." Kenneth Addicott, 73, Brighton, UK I have been horrified by all the images and as a result I have finally stopped eating meat. Killing all the healthy animals is completely unnecessary and I feel the government has coped very badly with the issue. The crisis could have been minimised had the government reacted sooner, and had all animals been vaccinated to begin with.' Cashier Laura Critchley, 37, Brighton, UK The strong images on the news are very unpleasant but have not put me off eating meat. Understandably they have given a bad picture of British food abroad, and stops foreigners buying British. I think the politicians have been too busy slagging each other off rather than dealing with the crisis. The animals should have been vaccinated to avoid the disease escalating.' Jobless Laura Hazeldine, 26, Brighton, UK I stopped buying beef because of BSE long ago, not so much for myself, but to protect my children. If I felt tempted by a piece of Stilton cheese now, I would not buy it. My husband and I always go for food products of Danish origin which we trust.' Economist Jillian Lange, 37, Denmark I'm still eating British meat ­ if anything I'm eating more meat while it's still available and I can afford it. The government has been terrible over this. It was not quick enough and it should be working now to slaughter unaffected animals and store them to ensure British meat supplies continue, rather than turning to expensive foreign imports.' Administrator Jane Hayes, 29, Brighton, UK We can't just boycott specific sorts of food or drink every time there is a food scare. After all, this is not the plague. One day the press wreaks havoc, the next the risk is minimised. The truth, I think, lies somewhere in between, but it is usually not heard because it is politically incorrect.' Language teacher Yvonne Kitter, 58, Denmark Seeing all the dead animals is unpleasant, but it doesn't stop me eating meat. I think the government is getting better at dealing with it.' Policewoman Debbie Buchanan, 40, Buxton, UK I would be very wary of buying any British meat until all of these diseases are pretty much wiped out of their country.' Systems assistant Valerie Goldman, 38, US {{NEWS }}