Working with the consumer

The public has a more questioning attitude nowadays. It rightly looks for independence and openness from government. People want to make their own choices. And to see their values reflected in decision-making about food, science, the environment and health. Consumer views are of key importance.

So, we make sure we bring in consumer and mass membership organisations and consumer representatives. They are included in meetings and consulted so their questions can be answered and ideas taken on board. The way we work was decided together with the Consumer Representatives’ Group - we chose ways of consulting that better meet  consumer needs. We also use techniques for understanding citizens including opinion surveys.

Discussions cover strategic issues. These include Defra’s priorities, consumer reactions to risk and the best methods for reaching consumer and citizen views. Policy areas have included animal welfare, fisheries, waste, food prices and reducing the environmental impact of the food chain. The meetings also deal with specific animal diseases and the risks they carry.

We are working together well with clear progress made in areas such as:

  • Advice on reducing food waste developed and shared with members of consumer organisations
  • Consumer views influenced the implementation of fruit and vegetable standards
  • a consumer organisations’ statement on the acceptability of Foot and Mouth vaccination
  • answering consumer representatives’ questions on the website during disease outbreaks.
  • influence achieved in the EU on BSE controls and poultry welfare;
  • influencing policy on avian flu vaccinations, withdrawals and marking as well as the website advice and the helpline practice.

Minutes of meetings

Page last modified: January 25, 2011