EUFIC’s social media listening study: Trends around processed foods

Context and purpose of the processing

Processed food is a widespread part of our diet. Food processing, any method used to change the original state of a food, can be necessary for example to make food safe. However processed foods are misunderstood by people and tend to receive negative attention in the media. Therefore, it is important to understand how people discuss and reason about processed food. The University of Surrey (UoS) and the European Food Information Council (EUFIC) are currently conducting a study to track and evaluate the way in which processed food is discussed on Twitter. This policy refers to the processing of personal data carried out by both organisations.

Study plan

To identify the main discussions that are taking place in the social media sphere, in the period October - December 2018, EUFIC will track the hashtags and keywords related to processed foods (“processedfood”, “processedfoods”, “processed” AND “foods”). UoS shall examine which topics are discussed in relation to processed foods (e.g., additives), and whether the discussions are positive or negative (e.g., processed foods are good vs. processed foods are bad).

EUFIC will also look into the intensity of the discussions through evaluating not only the number of tweets, but also the engagement (such as retweets) throughout the period.

All about data

We take the protection of data privacy seriously. In accordance with the GDPR, any identifiable personal information, will be processed fairly and lawfully, and in the public interest. This means that we will only use the data in the ways needed to conduct and analyse the research study.

When signing up to Twitter, users agree to the terms of its privacy policy which explains that Twitter is public and Tweets are immediately viewable and searchable by anyone around the world.

EUFIC and UoS, as joint data controllers, will decide how and why the data is collected for the research study.

EUFIC will collect this information for this joint research study using KeyHole, a third-party Twitter App that collects, uses, processes and stores information that has been made publicly available on the social media platforms. Access is password-protected, only accessible to the EUFIC team.

Only the content of tweets, list of related hashtags and keywords, number of retweets, and geographical location (where this is publicly available profile information) will be included in the study.

The number of re-tweets will be used to filter the most popular posts. The content of the tweets will be categorised into topics and sentiment, as explained above, to understand the discussions around processed foods.

The results may be submitted for publication in a scientific peer-reviewed journal as part of a PhD project, and the data will not be repurposed. Care will be taken to avoid sharing verbatim quotes where the user could be identified. The content of the posts will be described as trends or reconfigured, while preserving the intended meaning. Quotes will only be shared where opt-in consent is given, or the tweet is from an organisation (a legal entity, not considered personal data).

All project data related to the administration of the project (e.g. consent form), will be held for at least 6 years and all research data for at least 10 years in accordance with the University policy.


Your rights to access, change or move your information held by EUFIC/UoS are limited, since the data will be made anonymous. If you wish to withdraw your data from the study, we may not be able to do so.


If you have any questions about this research, please contact Christina Sadler, PhD student at

If you have any complaints about the way EUFIC handled your data, you can contact us at If believe EUFIC are processing your personal data in a way that is not lawful you can complain to the Belgian Data Protection Authority (

If you have any complaints about the way UoS handled your data, you can contact the Data Protection Officer at If you believe UoS are processing your personal data in a way that is not lawful you can complain to the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) (