Food Additives Campaign: Scientists answer consumer’s common questions this October. The EU-funded project FoodSafety4EU and the European Food Information Council (EUFIC) launched a social media campaign about food additives, based on an analysis of consumers’ questions and concerns. Although food additives must prove a purpose and undergo strict safety evaluations, they are a source of concern for consumers. Therefore, the campaign features experts in the field who will answer consumers’ most common questions throughout the month of October. The aim: raising general awareness of food additives, why they are used, their safety and labelling in the EU, and empowering consumers to take science-based decisions.
Food additives – a source of concern for consumers
Food additives are substances added to foods to perform certain functions, for example, to sweeten or help preserve them. Although they play an important role in our food supply, on average, 36% of Europeans report being concerned about additives like colours, preservatives and flavourings used in food and drinks, as highlighted in the 2022 Eurobarometer. In some EU countries like Lithuania, Estonia and Greece even more than 50% say they are concerned about food additives.
“In FoodSafety4EU we are strongly committed to understand risk perception in consumers and build our science-based messages accordingly. Together with EUFIC we will not just communicate but we will enjoy communicating!” said Veronica M.T. Lattanzio, Project Coordinator at the National Research Council of Italy (CNR).
Digital tools give insights into people’s questions
To develop an impactful campaign that answers people’s questions and concerns, EUFIC collected data about consumers’ frequently asked questions about food additives in order to identify knowledge gaps and barriers.
A keyword research analysis on Google showed that people mostly have questions on specific food additives, like monosodium glutamate, nitrates or sulphites, or questions on groups of food additives, such as emulsifiers or sweeteners. When looking for general information on “food additives” or “e-numbers”, consumers are more interested in the definition of these terms, their safety and health effects or in the functions of food additives.
Furthermore, EUFIC’s community and website visitors had the opportunity to submit their questions on food additives via different channels (e.g., social media polls & website pop-ups). Most questions received were related to safety concerns, e.g., when an additive is allowed in one country but not in another.
Science-based advice easy to understand
The experts who will be featured throughout the campaign on the channels of EUFIC (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) and FS4EU (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) come from a variety of backgrounds, including food and chemical safety, and nutrition research.
Posts with short video interviews, visuals, as well as a set of website articles will help make the scientific information about this topic more accessible to the public.