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Dr Reynolds and Dr Armstrong response to the EFRA committee enquiry COVID-19 and food supply

Reynolds, C. ORCID: 0000-0002-1073-7394 & Armstrong, B. (2020). Dr Reynolds and Dr Armstrong response to the EFRA committee enquiry COVID-19 and food supply. London, UK: City, University of London.


We provide this response to highlight data collected through online survey research. Our most important finding is that UK citizens typically perceive individual items of food to be higher risk following the UK lockdown. By risk we mean increased likelihood that eating the food would damage their health due to risks of contamination, food poisoning, improper handling, food fraud and mislabeling. However, this increased perception of food risk varies by food type. Post lockdown UK citizens perceive foods from China and the USA to be higher risk than that from the UK or the EU (this data is currently under peer review). This has implications for post lockdown (and post Brexit) trade policy and public trust. To rebuild the UK food system post COVID19, communication of food safety and food supply decisions must be coordinated, transparent and wide reaching. Our research confirms three key findings of other surveys carried out since the COVID19 lockdown that: 1) cooking and shopping practices have changed since lockdown with larger less frequent shops; 2) household food waste behaviour has changed since lockdown, with different population segments (age/income) self reporting wasting more or less than usual; 3) household food insecurity has increased by at least 10% since lockdown and the COVID crisis. We recommend that the Government and food industry should highlight to the public that the risk of contracting COVID19 through food or food packaging is highly unlikely. As perceptions of food risk influence citizen food choice it is key to understand whether specific foods or food groups show a greater increase in perceived food risk (e.g. fruit and vegetables vs. high fat sugar and salt foods), as this could have a negative impact on the uptake and consumption of sustainable healthy diets within the UK population post lockdown. We highlight that citizen science is uniquely placed as a research method to 1) investigate food issues, and 2) communicate information to the UK public. Providing further funding for citizen science research would be advantageous as the UK rebuilds the food system post lockdown.

Publication Type: Other (UNSPECIFIED)
Additional Information: Copyright 2020, the authors.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
J Political Science
Q Science > QR Microbiology > QR355 Virology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
T Technology > TX Home economics
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management > Food Policy
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