The EHEC-crisis - Impact and lessons learned - Sustainable cross-border crisis control and communication

M. Hamer, W. Terlau, W. Terlau, J. van der Roest, B. Petersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Food-borne disease is an ever-present threat and is often associated with the consumption of fresh food such as horticultural products. Apart from chemicals, heavy metals, fungi and viruses, bacteria are the most common cause for food poisoning. A serious outbreak in Germany and neighbouring countries in 2011 when 3,950 people were affected and 53 died, was induced by a novel strain of E. coli bacteria and suggested fresh vegetables as the source of infection. However, due to global food logistics it is an increasing challenge to trace back the source of infected food. A German-Dutch team of scientists analysed the EHEC outbreak from 2011 in order to provide new insights about risk assessment and crises control as well as communication infrastructure and strategies between responsible authorities and to the public, even across borders. Besides preventive measures to avoid contamination of horticultural products and to impede the spreading of human pathogens, the team analysed deficits in the field of crisis communication in order to develop a communication plan for decision-makers in a crisis situation. Technical innovations that can be used for decision-relevant information at the right time, with the required quality, will support the communication strategy. In order to develop a communication plan tailored to the different stakeholders' needs and their knowledge, the informational needs of the public should also be taken into account. Thus, combining preventive measures with state of the art communication strategies, will reduce the time between the alerts and the scientific basis and proof.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-58
JournalActa Horticulturae
Volume1126
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Keywords

  • Crisis exercise
  • Engage exchange model
  • Outbreak management
  • Risk communication
  • Social media analysis
  • Socio economic impact

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