FSA study finds third of UK consumers willing to try lab-grown meat

FSA study finds third of UK consumers willing to try lab-grown meat

A survey into public perceptions of emerging alternative proteins, conducted by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), has revealed that one in three is willing to try cultured meat.

The survey is part of the FSA’s commitment to supporting food innovation, especially where there are “potential benefits for dietary health, for protecting the environment or for boosting the UK economy – but always with consumer interests and food safety as the top priority.”

According to the study, awareness of alternative proteins is high amongst consumers, with 90% of respondents reporting that they had heard of plant-based proteins while 78% had heard of lab-grown meat.

Assurance around food safety is the top factor in encouraging people to try lab-grown meat. Over three quarters (77%) of respondents perceived plant-based proteins as being safe to eat compared to three in 10 (30%) for lab-grown meat.

Six in 10 respondents were willing to try plant-based proteins in their diet, the most common reasons – besides food safety – were health reasons (39%) and environmental or sustainability (36%) reasons. Environmental concerns and sustainability were the most common reasons for trying lab-grown meat (40%). The biggest barrier to trying plant-based proteins was preference for traditional meats (36%).

Respondents who were unwilling to try any of the alternative proteins tested were asked whether anything could encourage them to try it. Two in five (42%) reported that nothing could encourage them to try lab-grown meat, but over a quarter (27%) could be persuaded if they knew it was safe to eat and 23% if they could trust that it was properly regulated.

Safety must come first

Professor Robin May, FSA chief scientific adviser, said: “Our priority is to protect consumer interests by ensuring food is safe and what it says it is through a robust scientific process. We recognise the potential of alternative proteins for improving dietary health and as part of a sustainable food system.”

He added: “This important survey highlights that, while many consumers are considering trying alternative proteins, they will quite rightly only do so if they are confident that these products are safe and properly regulated.”

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