Consumer confidence in the safety of milk and infant milk formula in China

Saiwei Li, Siet J. Sijtsema, Marcel Kornelis, Yumei Liu*, Shengli Li

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


A series of food safety incidents related to domestically produced dairy in China harmed consumer confidence and caused a dramatic decrease in dairy consumption from 2008 to 2010. Compared with previous studies that mainly assessed consumer confidence in food or dairy in general, this study focused on 2 specific dairy products, milk and infant milk formula (IMF). Based on data from 934 Chinese consumers, confidence in the safety of milk and IMF was measured by using a multi-item scale with 2 dimensions—optimism and pessimism. We found that Chinese consumers were optimistic about the safety of milk and IMF but, at the same time, were concerned about the risks related to milk and IMF. Chinese consumers have less confidence in IMF than in milk. Structural equation modeling indicated that consumer trust in manufacturers and third parties in the dairy supply chain and confidence in other foods, such as meat and fish, can foster consumer confidence in the safety of milk and IMF, while the extent of recall of the melamine infant formula incident in 2008 and trait worry exert negative effects. In addition, consumers with more children or less family income are likely to be more confident in domestically produced IMF. These insights into consumer confidence and its determinants can assist dairy supply chains and regulatory institutions in formulating effective risk communication strategies to strengthen consumer confidence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8807-8818
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number10
Early online date14 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019


  • consumer confidence
  • food safety
  • infant milk formula
  • trust


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