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Avian influenza in the UK: knowledge, risk perception and risk reduction strategies

Thomas Gstraunthaler (Innsbruck University, Innsbruck, Austria)
Robert Day (Bournemouth University, Poole, Dorset, UK)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 21 March 2008




The purpose of the paper is to put across the concerns about the potential health hazards to consumers of products following various food scandals (i.e. BSE and the foot and mouth epidemics) have resurfaced again in the poultry market with avian influenza. Changes in patterns of consumption inevitably follow such incidences and the behaviours adopted very often follow risk assessment of the situation. The paper aims to examine and explain the drivers of changes of consumption in a unique segment of the market.


Students were chosen in accordance with previous studies of this type as they represent a homogeneous group, well informed and significant in numbers. The work of Slovic was used to construct a questionnaire to assess consumer risk and this was then extended to the area of consumption change according to the strategies identified by Roselius.


Through a correlation of risk based variables with changes in behaviour, a consumption change model is developed which demonstrates that knowledge, assessment of the potential for disaster and experience from past food scandals are the main drivers of change.


The research was performed immediately after the confirmation of the first H5N1 case in the UK and gives insight on how consumer behaviour is influenced by such an event.



Gstraunthaler, T. and Day, R. (2008), "Avian influenza in the UK: knowledge, risk perception and risk reduction strategies", British Food Journal, Vol. 110 No. 3, pp. 260-270.



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Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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