Summary of the UK 2021 food report

FSA has released their annual food standards report reviewing food industry trends and changes after the pandemic and the Brexit, here are the impacts on your business:

Since the beginning of COVID-19, in conjunction with the departure from the EU, the UK’s food system was greatly affected in many aspects, including food and feed safety, restaurant compliance and imported food monitoring.

Every country possesses it’s own food safety standards, and has potential food dangers when imported or exported. The summary of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) Report 2021 contains:

The Nation’s Plate

Data shows that over the past ten years, the nation’s nutrient intake stayed consistent, but although the sugar intake decreased overall, consumers eat more than the recommended dosage with about 28% of England adults living with obesity as of 2019. The average weight of adult-age Brits increased with the lack of physical activity and the change in the way adults ate throughout the pandemic – showing an overindulgence in sugar-filled and fatty foods and not enough portions of fibers, fruits, vegetables and fish. But who is responsible for this?

Average consumption of free sugars as a proportion of daily total energy (2020)

Source: Public Health England NDNS: Diet and physical activity – a follow-up study during COVID-19

Average daily saturated fat consumption as a proportion of daily total energy (2020)

Source: Public Health England NDNS: Diet and physical activity – a follow-up study during COVID-19

According to research from the FSA and FSS’s (The UK Public’s Interests, Needs and Concerns Around Food research), 22% of people in the UK order from takeout and 23% order delivery services at least once a week – mostly coming from young adults or those from higher income households.

The factors found to influence our food choices in recent years according to this data include:

  • The price of food: Healthy foods are “priced out” for most people and difficult to keep both wallet and body healthy
  • Health concerns: After education over the years, 49% of people interviewed alerted to avoid food with trans fats, palm oil, preservatives, or E numbers
  • Eating trends: More people are turning to a “flexitarian” diet to reduce their meat intake
  • Ethical concerns: the treatment of animals in the food chain would be a factor of not eating meats; the plastic waste would be another key factor in environmental concern

Impacts from the pandemic on food consumption choices:

  • Having healthy eating is tougher to the consumers due to their financial situations
  • The pandemic allows more people to cook at home and have healthier options
  • Consumers tended to eat more snacks during the lockdown
  • More online grocery shopping

Public priorities for the future (research from The FSA and FSS’s The UK Public’s Interests, Needs and Concerns Around Food research) include:

Priority 1: Ensure equitable access to healthy, safe, and affordable foods

  • More people intend to purchase healthier foods with an affordable price

Priority 2: Maintain & strengthen food safety and hygiene standards:

  • 43% of consumers enforce clearer labelling of food ingredients and allergens is the key priority

Priority 3: Act on additives and processed foods

  • People are aware that unhealthy foods contain trans fats, palm oil, preservatives, or E numbers

(Download the full report from the FSA for more priorities, or request demo here for enhancing your business)

Going global:

% of total UK imports sourced from the EU and from other regions, 2017-21

Source: Our food 2021 report

  • Around 40 million tons of food are imported from abroad every year; the EU remains by far the biggest supplier, accounting for over 90% of all beef, dairy, eggs, and pork products imported into the UK and nearly two-thirds (65%) of all food and feed not of animal origin
  • Despite recent volatility in import patterns, there are no signs of any immediate or wholesale shift in trading flows following the UK’s departure from the EU, though EU imports of fish, lamb and mutton, and pork have all fallen between 2019 and 2021.
  • Although there is no evidence that the standards of EU imports have fallen, the FSA and FSS believe the current situation does reduce our ability to prevent foods that do not meet the UK’s high standards from being placed on our market. The lack of import controls means we are not receiving official assurance from the exporting country that imports meet the UK’s high food and feed safety standards; the absence of border checks could also affect how we identify and respond to safety risks in future, with additional resource required by the UK to maintain levels of food safety assurance for these imports

The impact of EU departure on import controls:

  • The protocols on Ireland/Northern Ireland took effect on 1 January 2021 and requires Northern Ireland to apply EU import requirements on any products entering the EU regulatory zone from outside the EU
  • Not receiving official assurance from the exporting countries that those imports meet the UK’s high food and feed safety standards

To keep rapid alerts available from the latest news from the world, Safefood 360° RISK provides alert system to monitor. Safefood 360° RISK combines both RASFF and World Bank data for the most up to date news and risk alerts and monitor safety alerts worldwide.

Safe and Sound:

  • There are 2,363 reported food incidents in the UK in 2021, down from 2019 (2,598) but remains similar number to 2020 (2,261).
  • Contamination by harmful micro-organisms was the most frequently reported hazard: 584 cases (browse our technical datasheet to understand how to prevent the harm from the hazards)
  • There have been increasing numbers in incidents involving poultry meat in the UK from 2019 – 2021 (83 to 238 cases); especially seen in Salmonella in breaded chicken (download our datasheet about the Salmonella to know the prevention of it)
  • Dietetic food incidents have nearly doubled since the previous year (128 cases to 207)

Total number of product recall information notices issued in the UK

Source: FSA/FSS Incident Management Systems

There are 59 cases of recall in the UK in 2021.

Once the food incident has been identified, the food product may have to be withdrawn or recalled, not only costing food businesses money and reputation, but also directly affects the public’s health.

Most of the incidents can be avoided by the good management procedure (HACCP) and by managing the food process with Safety plan management solution. Request a demo to learn more about how Safefood 360° helps you to reduce the chances of food related incidents.

Informing Consumers

The UK’s departure from the EU prompted a series of actions designed to minimise disruption, including new legislation, changes to compositional standards and origin labelling. A new UK Nutrition and Health Claims Committee (UKNHCC) has also been established to provide expert advice and scrutiny on food marketing claims. Existing arrangements remain in Northern Ireland under the terms of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.

The food labelling must contain the information below:

  • Name and description
  • Ingredients list
  • Nutritional information
  • Best before or use by date
  • Warnings if the food contains additives such as caffeine
  • Places of Origin

Food Labels

Source: Our Food 2021, FSA report

From a consumer’s point of view, this has had very little noticeable impact to date – the immediate focus has been on maintaining continuity with existing EU laws to minimise any disruption to the supply chain. However, for food business owners, some important foundations for a post-EU approach to food information standards have been put in place:

  • Food law changes into British law
  • Removing mutual recognition of food composition standards from 1 Oct 2022
  • Changes to address and country of origin labelling

What if you have over 500 products in your food business? Our Food Safety Management Solution is designed to improve your business processes within the food industry, allowing you to easily pass audits and maintain compliance with GFSI recognised food safety standards. Browse our Food Safety Management Solution to learn how it helps your business and your supplier chain.

If you are ready to learn more now, request a demo with one of our food safety experts.

Keeping It Clean

The current level of legal compliance with hygiene standards across food and feed businesses in the UK:

Keeping to monitor the latest legilastion is not easy. Safefood 360° provides an integrated platform for your food safety management and supplier quality management. The software is built by a group of food experts to customise what you really need to secure the assurance and make your aduit become easy. If you have any questions about your current FSMS, SQMS or RISK Assessment systems, submit a demo request for a professional consultation to get your business into next level.