The UK’s Food Standards Agency has said its fifth annual Consumer Attitudes Survey, published today [Wednesday], reveals increasing concern about diet and health across the UK.

The amount of salt in food is the top concern for consumers, with concerns about levels of fat and sugar also in the top five. More people are also looking for information about levels of salt, fat and sugar on food labels than ever before. Over the past five years, of those people who look at food labels, the number of people who claimed to look for nutritional information has risen from just over half of consumers in 2000, to three quarters in 2004.

Meanwhile, the level of concern about BSE has fallen by almost a quarter since 2000. Levels of concern about the safety of raw beef have also fallen, from over half of all consumers in 2000, to just over a third in 2004.

The survey also revealed that the number of people claiming to have eaten five portions of fruit and vegetables the previous day has risen from just over a quarter in 2000 to half of all consumers in 2004. Knowledge of the ‘5 a day’ message of eating fruit and vegetables has increased from 43% in 2000, to 58% in 2004.

Concerns about the accuracy of food labelling has risen from 35% in 2000 to 44% in 2004.

“Over the last five years the trend among consumers has been towards healthier eating and an increase in demand for reliable and practical information on all aspects of nutrition, food and health. People are more worried about levels of salt, fat and sugar in food and the accuracy of food labels, and less concerned about issues like BSE,” said Gill Fine, director of consumer choice and dietary health at the Food Standards Agency.