A perceptual divide? Consumer and expert attitudes to food risk management in Europe

A. Krystallis, L.J. Frewer, G. Rowe, J. Houghton, O. Kehagia, T. Perrea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


Crises in food risk management have often been attributed to disconnection between the stakeholders involved, as when consumers do not believe risk communications or dispute risk managers' priorities. Before this problem of disconnection can be resolved, however, there is a need to clarify the nature and extent of perceptual discrepancies between stakeholders and to establish whether mutual understanding is attainable. Our recent research has identified that food risk experts and consumers do have different interpretations of what it means for risk management to be effective. Here we describe a study that used telephone interviews to present food risk experts and consumers in four different European countries with statements (derived from our previous work) indicating the different expert and consumer perspectives on food risk management, in order to assess the participants' reactions to these. We found that, though there were areas of agreement between the experts and consumers (for example, they agreed that consumers lack relevant knowledge, that food safety is a shared responsibility and that scientific uncertainty cannot be completely avoided), there were other areas where disagreement remained (for example, on the acceptability of economic interests in food risk management and the role and quality of media reporting). These results indicate the key areas where mutual understanding and appreciation are lacking between significant stakeholders, and hence the areas that should form the target for the activities of organizations like the European Food Safety Authority in order to improve the effective implementation of food risk management practices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407-424
JournalHealth, Risk & Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • lay judgments
  • chemical risks
  • intuitive toxicology
  • public perceptions
  • safety
  • uncertainty
  • behavior
  • accounts
  • hazards
  • choice


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