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Chapter 7 : Communicating about Microbial Risks in Foods

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Abstract:

This chapter briefly talks about psychology, sociology, anthropology, epidemiology, communications, public health, and marketing to help those involved with microbial risk assessment and management better understand some of the basics of effective risk communication, some of the unique challenges inherent in communicating about microbial risks, and how to avoid some of the most common mistakes. The important lesson is that risk communicators must analyze the situational characteristics of the microbial hazards they are confronting and should design their messages accordingly. While risk communication research involving other types of hazards can inform efforts to design communications about microbial risks, concerns about food risks also have unique characteristics that should be considered independently of perceptions of hazards in other domains. As with studies examining hand-washing behaviors, researchers have found demographic differences in risky food-handling and -consumption behaviors. Food labels can serve a comparable role, though they often provide information to consumers but fail to explain why or how to use. The disclosure of severe consequences experienced by others can also trigger teachable moments, especially if the actors or victims involved bear similarity to your target audience. Witte and Allen conclude that risk communicators can best develop effective fear appeal messages by increasing references to both the severity of the threat and the target audience’s susceptibility to it.

Citation: Hallman W. 2008. Communicating about Microbial Risks in Foods, p 205-262. In Schaffner D, Doyle M (ed), Microbial Risk Analysis of Foods. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815752.ch7

Key Concept Ranking

Food Safety
0.6197203
Food Poisoning
0.5679131
Respiratory syncytial virus
0.4609522
Risk Communication
0.42878252
0.6197203
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