With less than 100 days until the UK exits the European Union (EU), a new survey has revealed a significant rise in the number of people who are ‘increasingly concerned’ about a reduction in food quality and standards in Scotland as a result of Brexit.
New consumer research, carried out by Food Standards Scotland (FSS) (1002 people surveyed between 1 and 3 September), found that 77% of people surveyed living north of the Border were either ‘quite or very concerned’ about a drop in standards post 31 December – an increase of eight per cent on the results of similar research in January.
The survey responses highlighted that:
- There would be strong opposition from the public to any lowering of standards of food
- Sale of chlorinated chicken and GM foods are of the greatest concern (57%), followed by lowering animal welfare standards (up 13% to 54%)
- Chlorinated chicken is least likely to be purchased if significantly cheaper, with three out of four people saying they are very unlikely to purchase it
- Compared with January there appears to be a hardening of opinion with more people saying that they will be less likely to purchase poorer quality foods, such as eggs from battery-caged hens and meat from factory farmed animals
- Only one in ten said they would be likely to buy GM foods, even if they were significantly cheaper
- 71% of those interviewed believed there would be an increase in food crime (up 10% from January) after Brexit
FSS’s Chief Executive, Geoff Ogle, said the research results were a clear indication of the significant concerns people living in Scotland had ahead of leaving the EU at the end of the year.
He added: “Scottish consumer interests in relation to food are obviously a primary focus for FSS and the ‘hardening’ of opinion around the potential lowering of food quality and standards is clearly a major concern for people. We made those points in our response to the UK Government’s Internal Market White Paper last month.
“We are working very closely with the Scottish Government to fully understand the potential outcomes from our exit from the EU and to mitigate any issues there may be around food standards and quality, but it is clear from these results that the people in Scotland will need some convincing that the measures being put in place between now and 31 December will work for all concerned.”
FSS will be monitoring public opinion around Brexit with further surveys over the next few months in the lead up to 31 December.