Understanding Consumer Confidence in the Safety of Food: Its Two-Dimensional Structure and Determinants

J. de Jonge, J.C.M. van Trijp, R.J. Renes, L.J. Frewer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

97 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Understanding of the determinants of consumer confidence in the safety of food is important if effective risk management and communication are to be developed. In the research reported here, we attempt to understand the roles of consumer trust in actors in the food chain and regulators, consumer recall of food safety incidents, consumer perceptions regarding the safety of particular product groups, personality characteristics, and sociodemographics, as potential determinants of consumer confidence in the safety of food. Consumer confidence in the safety of food was conceptualized as consisting of two distinct dimensions, namely, "optimism" and "pessimism." On the basis of a representative sample of 657 Dutch consumers, structural equation modeling was applied to simultaneously estimate the effect of the determinants on both "optimism" and "pessimism." The results indicated that, to a considerable extent, both optimism and pessimism about the safety of food arise from consumer trust in regulators and actors in the food chain and the perceived safety of meat and fish rather than other product categories. In addition, support was found for the notion that optimism and pessimism are conceptually distinct, as these dimensions of confidence were partly influenced by different determinants. The results of this study imply that consumer confidence in the safety of food could be enhanced by improving both consumer trust in societal actors, and consumer safety perceptions of particular product groups.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)729-740
JournalRisk Analysis
Volume27
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Keywords

  • mad-cow-disease
  • genetically-modified food
  • risk perception
  • social trust
  • fresh meat
  • risk/benefit perception
  • public perceptions
  • perceived risk
  • information
  • hazards

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