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What are the biggest health risks for consumers today?


What consumers consider to be the greatest health risks
According to a recent survey, consumers consider smoking, environmental pollution, unhealthy or improper diet and alcohol to be the greatest health risks. But important issues of consumer health protection are still largely unknown, experts warn.

The biggest health risks
If you ask consumers what they consider to be the greatest health risks, they are still smoking, pollution of the climate or the environment, unhealthy or incorrect nutrition and alcohol. Only then are unhealthy or contaminated foods and possible problems that can arise from agriculture mentioned. This is a result of the current BfR consumer monitor, a representative survey by the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR).

Consumers underestimate risks
As reported by the BfR, a small majority of those surveyed believe that the quality and safety of our food tend to increase or remain the same.

Topics such as antibiotic resistance, genetically modified food and residues of pesticides continue to cause concern among the general public.

"But it still shows that consumers also underestimate risks that are important from a risk assessment perspective, such as Pyrrolizidine alkaloids in tea, acrylamide in food or food hygiene in your own household, ”said BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel.

Teas contaminated with dangerous pollutants
And there are indeed enough such risks: The pollutant levels of chamomile and herbal teas have been reported several times in recent months.

Some of these contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids, or PA for short. These are substances that are undesirable in foods "because they damage the liver and have shown mutagenic and carcinogenic effects in animal experiments," the BfR wrote in a statement.

Food hygiene at home
The current BfR survey of more than 1,000 people also showed that a new method of gene modification that is currently being intensively discussed in science - the so-called "genome editing" - is largely unknown to people in Germany.

One issue that from a scientific point of view is far too little attention paid by consumers is food hygiene at home. Only a small minority is concerned about this. In contrast, 34 percent are concerned about food hygiene in the hospitality industry.

The respondents viewed the safety of products such as textiles, toys and cosmetics with skepticism. Almost half of them rate textiles and toys as unsafe, while the percentage is slightly lower for cosmetics. However, concerns about the safety of toys have increased compared to the previous year.

According to the institute, the results of the current consumer monitor show how important it is to raise public awareness of findings and verifiable results from research. (ad)

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