Cost is the top concern for Irish consumers when considering what food products to buy, a survey carried out by the European Food Safety Authority has found.
The 2022 Eurobarometer on food safety found that 63% of respondents in Ireland ranked cost as the most important factor when purchasing food, followed by taste which was ranked in second place at 54%, and food safety in third at 52%.
The Irish results were found to be higher than the EU average of 54% for cost, 51% for taste, and 46% for food safety.
The welfare of farmed animals was of the least concern among participants at 20%.
Impacts on the environment were also on the lower end of priorities for Irish consumers, with just 11% concerned compared with the EU average of 16%.
When it came to animal welfare, just 8% of respondents ranked it as an important factor compared to the EU average of 15%.
In the same study, which interviewed more than 1,000 people in Ireland, 90% agreed that regulations are in place to ensure that food is safe while 84% said they trust national authorities as a source of information on food risk, almost 20% higher than the EU average of 66%.
In relation to food safety concerns, 39% ranked food or drinks contaminated by bacteria, viruses, and parasites as their biggest concern while 36% were worried about pesticide residues in food products.
Nearly 30% were concerned about additives such as colours, preservatives, or flavourings used in food or drinks.
Food Safety Authority of Ireland CEO Pamela Byrne said: “In the current high cost-of-living climate and with rising household bills, it is not surprising to see that Irish consumers report cost as the main factor when purchasing food, up 6% since 2019.
“However, from a food safety perspective, it is encouraging to see that Irish consumers place food safety as the third most important factor when buying food,” she said.
Three-quarters of the Irish participants interviewed said they had a personal interest in the topic of food safety with a strong majority (82% of men and 83% of women) saying they would change their behaviour if they were made aware of a foodborne disease outbreak news story.
This figure was higher among those aged 15-24, with 90% saying they would change their behaviour.