CONCERNS around chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-injected beef have been evidenced by a new study of consumer opinion.

Research was undertaken by the University of Kent, University of Reading and IHS Markit, to highlight the extent to which UK consumers place high expectations on animal welfare and food production methods.

The researchers conducted choice experiments for four food products examining UK consumer attitudes for agricultural production methods currently prohibited in the UK, including chlorine-washed chicken and beef from cattle grown using hormone implants. These methods of food production are common in the USA but are prohibited under EU food safety regulations

Principle Investigator and Professor of Agri-Environmental Economics at the University of Kent, Professor Iain Fraser, said: "Our findings are a strong indicator of the expectations placed on food production by UK consumers. Methods of food production that fall short in terms of animal welfare draw a negative response from UK consumers, whilst in contrast the presence of EU food safety standards on packaging results in a positive response from consumers," he continued. "Data from the same project also suggests that consumers tend to strongly value EU food standards regardless of their attitudes towards Brexit.

"As the UK continues to consider post-Brexit agricultural trade arrangements, as well as how to capture industry and public views within the Agricultural Bill currently going through Parliament, these findings support the need to maintain high UK food standards," he stressed.

The study ‘Do Consumers Really Care? An Economic Analysis of Consumer Attitudes Towards Food Produced Using Prohibited Production Methods’ was published in Journal of Agricultural Economics and can be found here