Food fraud and consumers' choices in the wake of the horsemeat scandal

Lara Agnoli, Roberta Capitello, Maria De Salvo, Alberto Longo, Marco Boeri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
2239 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose – In 2012, the European food industry was hit by a food fraud: horsemeat was found in
pre-prepared foods, without any declaration on the package. This is commonly referred to as the
“horsemeat scandal”. The purpose of this paper is to investigate consumers’ preferences across
Europe for a selected ready meal, ready to heat (RTH) fresh lasagne, to consider whether the effects of
potential food frauds on consumers’ choices can be mitigated by introducing enhanced standards of
RTH products.
Design/methodology/approach – An online survey was administered to 4,598 consumers of RTH
lasagne in six European countries (Republic of Ireland, France, Italy, Spain, Germany and Norway),
applying discrete choice experiments to estimate consumers’ willingness to pay for enhanced food
safety standards and highlight differences between countries.
Findings – Many similarities across countries emerged, as well as some differences. Consumers in
Europe are highly concerned with the authenticity of the meat in ready meals and strongly prefer to
know that ingredients are nationally sourced. Strong regional differences in price premiums exist for
enhanced food safety standards.
Originality/value – This research adds relevant insights in the analysis of consumers’ reaction to
food fraud, providing practical guidelines on the most appropriate practices that producers should
adopt and on the information to reduce food risk perception among consumers. This would prove
beneficial for the food processing industry and the European Union. The survey is based on a
representative sample of European consumers making this the largest cross-country study of this kind.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1898-1913
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Food Journal
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 01 Aug 2016

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