How food regulators communicate with consumers about food safety

Annabelle M Wilson (Discipline of Public Health, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia.)
Samantha B Meyer (School of Public Health and Health Systems, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.)
Trevor Webb (Behavioural & Regulatory Analysis Section, Food Standards Australia New Zealand, Canberra, Australia.)
Julie Henderson (School of Nursing and Midwifery, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia.)
John Coveney (Discipline of Public Health, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia.)
Dean McCullum (Food Safety and Nutrition Branch, SA Health, Adelaide , Australia.)
Paul R. Ward (Discipline of Public Health, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia.)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Publication date: 3 August 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to report how food regulators communicate with consumers about food safety and how they believe consumers understand their role in relation to food safety. The implications of this on the role of food regulators are considered.

Design/methodology/approach

In total, 42 food regulators from Australia, New Zealand and the UK participated in a semi-structured interview about their response to food incidents and issues of food regulation more generally. Data were analysed thematically.

Findings

Food regulators have a key role in communicating information to consumers about food safety and food incidents. This is done in two main ways: proactive and reactive communication. The majority of regulators said that consumers do not have a good understanding of what food regulation involves and there were varied views on whether or not this is important.

Practical implications

Both reactive and proactive communication with consumers are important, however there are clear benefits in food regulators communicating proactively with consumers, including a greater understanding of the regulators’ role. Regulators should be supported to communicate proactively where possible.

Originality/value

There is a lack of information about how food regulators communicate with consumers about food safety and how food regulators perceive consumers to understand food regulation. It is this gap that forms the basis of this paper.

Keywords

Citation

Wilson, A.M., Meyer, S.B., Webb, T., Henderson, J., Coveney, J., McCullum, D. and Ward, P.R. (2015), "How food regulators communicate with consumers about food safety", British Food Journal, Vol. 117 No. 8, pp. 2129-2142. https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-12-2014-0419

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Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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