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Is social media a potential resource for communicating food risk information? Is social media a potential resource for communicating food risk information?

This study, carried out by researchers from across Europe, assessed whether European consumers already familiar with social media use it to seek information on food-related risks. Results show that risk information can be provided on social media alongside other information resources, but that it should not be considered as a substitute.

There are various means for the public to obtain information on food risk information, including offline media such as television and newspapers, and online resources such as search engines and the websites of trusted organisations. Social media (defined as online applications that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content) is a potential source for communication of food risks.
In this study, 1,264 consumers between the ages of 18 and 75 were recruited from eight European countries (Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom). Participants completed an online survey, which explored how likely they would be to use a variety of communication channels to find information on safety risks related to bacteria in fresh vegetables. This topic was the focus of the study because of the 2011 outbreak of E. coli in sprouted seeds (specifically fenugreek sprouted seeds). The crisis was previously believed to be the result of the contamination of fresh vegetables (tomatoes, lettuce or cucumbers), and lead to 50 deaths, the kidney failure of 850 people and severe economic losses for the fresh vegetables sector.

Friday 22nd of August 2014

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