Chinese consumers see New Zealand food products as carrying a greater food safety risk than foods imported from many other countries, according to survey results released by New Zealand's Massey University on Wednesday.
The survey, conducted in Lanzhou, capital of northwest China's Gansu Province, found 28 percent of the 531 participants rated New Zealand dairy products "not very safe."
The figure compared with Australia's 14.8 percent, Canada's 14. 8 percent, the United States' 13.2 percent and the European Union' s 12.5 percent.
The survey was conducted in October last year, two months after dairy giant Fonterra's botulism scare that sparked a global recall of infant formula and other whey protein concentrate products, but turned out to be a false alarm.
Professor of Food Safety and Microbiology Steve Flint said the botulism scare was likely to have influenced the results.
"If this is true, then this demonstrates the power of media publicity in influencing people's trust in food safety," Flint said in a statement.
It would be important for New Zealand Prime Minister John Key to generate positive media coverage within China on his current visit there as he sought to restore confidence in New Zealand's dairy exports.
"In New Zealand we pride ourselves on our reputation as a provider of safe food to the world. Our economy is based on this reputation," said Flint.
"China is one of our biggest export markets and we have long been of the opinion that the Chinese trust New Zealand products. If this is not the case, then we have to reassess our international standing when it comes to how our customers view the safety of our food."
Flint said the university hoped to conduct a similar survey in the future to determine how New Zealand's reputation as a trusted supplier of food was trending in China.