British consumers are more confident about the safety of their food than those from any other nation in Europe, it has been claimed.
Dr Mark Harvey, a sociologist from Manchester University, helped conduct a survey of 9,000 consumers, industry players and food regulatory organisations for the European Commission which made an unusual finding.
The survey found a link between the dominance of supermarkets in each country's food industry and the relative trust which consumers placed in the reliability of the food they bought.
Whereas in Italy 39 per cent thought food safety had got worse in the past 20 years, in the UK just 12 per cent agreed, the survey found.
Although Dr Harvey admitted that state corruption and the introduction of the Euro played a part in undermining confidence in Italy, that country's supermarket dominance remains limited, while in the UK it is extremely well entrenched.
Dr Harvey believes this confidence to be "quite astonishing" given the all-time lows achieved during the mad cow disease crisis of 15 years ago.
"Many people believe that the powerful supermarket chains are eroding social ties… you' d therefore expect trust to be low in a country where supermarkets dominate the market," Dr Harvey said.
"Exactly the opposite is the case: the UK is dominated by supermarkets and has the highest trust whereas Italy has the lowest."