Northern Ireland ‘Food and You’ survey published

Last updated:
28 June 2013
The FSA in Northern Ireland has today published the results of its ‘Food and You’ survey exploring the public’s attitudes, behaviours and knowledge of food and healthy eating.

The Food and You carried out every two years, and allows the Agency to compare reported attitudes and behaviours between different groups within the population, and how these change over time. The first wave of the Food and You survey was carried out in 2010.

The Northern Ireland report published today covers the second wave of the survey, during which more than 500 people across Northern Ireland in 2012 took part in face-to-face interviews.

Survey findings

The survey found that:

  • For financial reasons, 38% of respondents bought more items on special offer (an increase from 17% in wave 1) and 23% said they had eaten at home more (an increase from 16% in wave 1 of the survey).
  • Respondents in Northern Ireland were more likely than those in England and Scotland to follow FSA food safety advice at home. Older respondents, particularly those over 75, and men, however, were less likely to follow the Agency’s guidance.
  • Respondents were most likely to follow FSA food safety guidance for cleaning and cooking at home, but less likely to follow FSA advice on chilling, cross-contamination, and use of 'use by' dates.
  • Three-quarters of respondents (73%) reported having eaten out in the previous week and 38% said they use hygiene stickers to check the hygiene standards of an establishment (an increase from 11% in wave 1). Respondents in Northern Ireland were more likely than those in England and Wales to have previously seen an FHRS certificate and/or sticker (66% compared to 33% and 43% respectively).
  • 90% of respondents correctly reported that health experts recommend people should eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day (an increase from 81% in wave 1), and nearly half (48%) said they had eaten at least five portions of fruit and vegetables the previous day.
  • 10% correctly reported that the maximum daily intake of salt for adults is 6g, while only 1% of men and 6% of women knew that the maximum daily intake of fat is 30g and 20g respectively.
  • A quarter (25%) of respondents said they would have no difficulty in trying to eat more healthily. The most frequently reported barriers to eating more healthily were the cost of food (22%, an increase from 11% in wave 1), time constraints (13%), cutting out sugar (12%) and not liking healthy food (12%).
  • 29% said that over the last six months they had eaten more fruit and vegetables (29%, an increase compared to 22% in wave 1) and a fifth said they were eating smaller portions (22%), less salt (19%) and less saturated fat (19%).

Gerry McCurdy, Director of FSA in Northern Ireland, said: ‘This report gives us an insight into the Northern Ireland public’s attitude and reported behaviour regarding food safety and healthy eating, both in the home and when eating out. In particular, it shows us how those attitudes and behaviours have changed over the past couple of years and this will help us to target our work with consumers where we can make the biggest impact on reducing foodborne disease as well as obesity and associated chronic illnesses.’