ISGP Podcast: Perception Reception

Public perception of food safety risk is highly influenced by social media. In a world of infinite information sources, who can you trust when it comes to safely feeding your family?

When considering risk in food safety and security, the public frequently adopts different views depending on whether the risk is posed to the individual or the nation. Therefore it may be necessary to adopt food safety strategies that balance the needs of a nation with the desires of the individual. individuals want to be provided with the safest and least-processed products, two qualifiers that may not be achievable simultaneously because food technologies that enhance safety often require processing. The current method of involving the public in establishing policies and laws, including food safety laws, is ineffective and hinders transparency, creating distrust among consumers. Social media provides a platform for both accurate and inaccurate information to be communicated to the public, and it becomes the reader’s responsibility to identify the valuable material. The dissemination of incorrect food-related information by untrustworthy sources is a serious concern. How to sort the good information from the bad?

These issues and potential solutions were part of the discussion with Robert Buchanan, Director and Professor at the Center for Food Safety and Security Systems at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Maryland. His paper, Risk Perception: A Challenge to the Development of Risk-Based Food Safety Policy, at the center of the debate at the Institute on Science for Global Policy’s (ISGP) conference on Food Safety, Security, and Defense: Safeguarding the American Food Supply that was convened at Ursinus College in 2015.

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