This is a periodic survey of the Austrian population with year-specific focuses on risk perception. In 2018, the focus was on food, food safety and environmental pollution. The basis is a representative online survey conducted from September 25 to October 5, 2018. The one-year comparison is based on data collected in 2017 on the same questions. As in the 2017 Risk Barometer, the topics of particular concern are social inequality, climate change and environmental pollution. Concern increased in the areas of social inequality, environmental pollution, climate change, energy supply and digitalization. Concern has decreased in the areas of genetic engineering, data protection, food quality, food supply and food safety.
In the area of environmental pollution, the main concerns are the effect of pesticides on the environment, waste volumes and waste handling, as well as land sealing and land consumption. Except for the issue of soil quality, there was no increase in concern. When it comes to food, Austrians are particularly concerned about antibiotic residues, deception through incorrect information and hormone-like substances. Nutritional parameters such as salt, fat and sugar content, on the other hand, are of much less concern. Quality, freshness and safety are the most important criteria for food. In Austria, trust in quality seals and labels on food packages is high, with seals awarded by public bodies and organic quality seals enjoying the highest level of trust and seals awarded by associations and NGOs the lowest.
The differences in risk perception between women and men were also confirmed again. Women are more concerned about all issues, significantly about social inequality, environmental pollution, digitalization of all areas of life, epidemics and animal diseases, nutritional quality and supply, and food safety. The gender gap is particularly large for food safety and diet quality and nutritional care. Traditional media such as television, daily newspapers, and magazines continue to be the most popular sources of information on risk issues, far outpacing social media in popularity. Risk reports are increasingly leading to a willingness to permanently change behavior. The least concerned are male youngsters and the most concerned are the 65+ generation. Reading risk reports leads to long-term behavior change predominantly among female Best Agers and Generation 65+. Male Youngsters are most likely to ignore risk reports.