Twitter-based food risk communication still evolving

Here at Hylo we are following with attention the development of social media-based food risk communication. For example we participate to the EC project FoodRisc. We have also made a preliminary analysis of factors that may affect food recall communication on Twitter. For example we have looked at factors potentially influencing official retweets of the UK FSA’s risk-related messages. We have also produced a simple diagram of two different communication styles, those of the UK FSA and of the USDA: USDA uses hashtags, while the UK FSA seems better at increasing the targeting of message to affected groups.

Luca Bucchini – Managing director

Demographic characteristics play a role in consumers trust in the food supply chain

Nowadays consumers are more and more interested in food safety and quality. These two factors influence the overall trust consumers have in the food supply chain, in the sense that to trust a food, consumers want it to be not only safe but also of good quality and this applies to all the steps of the food chain, from production to consumption.

A recent study we have looked at has investigated if demographic differences might exist with regard to the level of consumers trust in the food supply chain, considering a range of safety and quality variables. A telephone survey was conducted on a random sample of the Australian population aged 18+ years, with more than 1000 thousands interviews done. From the results some demographic differences emerged in relation to how much attention consumers pay to safety and quality: females, older persons and lower income groups were most concerned.

The results of this study  are relevant to our research investigating – within FoodRisC as well – of how consumers perceive communication of food risks, on gaps or barriers to communication and on common tools for a more effective communication on food. In fact, by knowing the demographic characteristics behind the importance placed on a certain food issue, an appropriate targeted communication campaign might be developed to increase consumer trust. This might be one potential tool to increase effectiveness of communication on food issues.”

Antonella Guzzon – Research Team

Risk assessment, management and communication: highlights from the 20th Society for Risk Analysis Europe Meeting

The Annual  Meeting of the Society for Risk Analysis Europe took place this year, for its 20th edition, in Stuttgart (Germany) from 6th to 8th of June and I have had the chance to attend the conference, contributing with an oral presentation within one of the symposia organised. More specifically, I have given a presentation within the symposium “Food Risks and Benefits” which was focused on the results achieved so far by FoodRisc project (for more information visit www.foodrisc.org). FoodRisC is an FP7 funded project, currently running, focused on food risk and benefit communication and Hylobates Consulting is one of the partners of the projects consortium.

Many topics were covered during the oral sessions and symposia  running in parallel throughout the whole conference. The most interesting ones, bearing in mind the work we carry on at Hylobates, were risk assessment, risk management and risk communication in different fields, such as food, nanotechnologies, climate change, nuclear power as so on. In particular, risk communication was of interest for us considering our involvement in FoodRisC project as already mentioned.

In relation to the issue of perception of risk communication, Ellen Peters (Ohio State University, US) explained in her presentation, during the first plenary session of the conference, the concept of “numeracy” and its implications in risk perception. “Numeracy” refers to the ability of individuals in processing numeric information contained in a message. This skill influences decisions people take about various kinds of risks, such as environmental, health or financial ones, when exposed to information on related issues.

Moving on to risk assessment and risk management, two presentations were dedicated to this complex topics followed by a lively debate between the speakers. The first presentation was from Terje Aven (University of Stavanger, Norway) who focused on the misconceptions of risk which are present in the methods used in risk assessment and risk management. The speaker provided some examples as well as some ideas for improvement. Subsequently, Charles Vlek (University of Groningen, Netherlands) gave a talk on uncertainty in risk evaluation and on the rational balancing the precaution and venture principles, using different examples to explain the theory behind these principles, from the Trojan horse to E.coli crisis in Germany.

Finally, I would like to mention the presentation of Atsuo Kishimoto (National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Japan) who provided a thorough explanation of the risk governance in a multiple risk situation such as the one that occurred in Japan on last March, with the earthquake, the tsunami and Fukushima nuclear accident all at the same time. The speaker talked about the consequences of the unexpected height of the tsunami and complete loss of electricity in the nuclear power plant at Fukushima in relation to what were considered to be the deficits of the managing system emergency.

 

Antonella Guzzon – Research Team

 

Hylobates intervista 35 persone in Italia per il progetto Foodrisc

Patrick Wall, coordinatore di FoodRisC

Hylobates Consulting è uno dei quattordici partner del Progetto FoodRisC (Food Risk Communication –perceptions and communication of food risk/benefits across Europe – in italiano “Comunicazione del Rischiodegli Alimenti – percezioni e comunicazione dei rischi e benefici degli alimenti in Europa”), finanziatodalla Comunità Europea nell’ambito del 7° Programma Quadro.

Il progetto ha una durata triennale ed ha l’obiettivo di elaborare una mappa delle reti e delle fonti di informazione che contribuiscono all acomunicazione dei rischi e dei benefici degli alimenti in Europa. Il consorzio che gestisce il progetto ècostituito da istituti di ricerca, PMI, organizzazioni dei consumatori che nell’insieme rappresentano nove Stati Membri.
I progressi della ricerca sono stati discussi durante il secondo meeting del progetto che si è tenuto a Londradal 3 al 4 marzo 2011.
Hylobates ha portato a termine 35 interviste con i consumatori, esperti e stakeholder che sono state condotte in Italia.  Altrettante interviste sono state condotte da altri cinque partner del progetto (Belgio,Irlanda, Lettonia, Spagna, Paesi Bassi).

I risultati delle interviste di tutti i paesi coinvolti contribuiranno alla valutazione della comunicazione dei rischi e benefici degli alimenti tra i consumatori, esperti estakeholder che rappresentano diversi passaggi della filiera alimentare. In particolare, le interviste sarannoanalizzate per identificare le questioni che sono di maggiore interesse per i consumatori in relazione allacomunicazione dei rischi e benefici degli alimenti.
Più in generale, le aree di ricerca del progetto includono:

  • La caratterizzazione delle questioni relative al rischio e beneficio degli alimenti e le implicazioni perla comunicazione ad esse correlate
  • Il potenziale ruolo dei nuovi social medi nella comunicazione dei rischi e benefici degli alimenti
  • Il modo in cui i consumatori rispondono all’informazione che percepiscono come incerta,contraddittoria e che disorienta e sviluppare dei criteri rilevanti di segmentazione
  • L’applicabilità del concetto di ricerca dell’informazione nell’ideazione della comunicazione dei rischi e benefici degli alimenti
  • Mettere a punto delle modalità pratiche con cui tener conto di come i consumatori formano le loro opinioni e deliberano con l’obiettivo di fornire benefici sostanziali agli stakeholders nello sviluppo della comunicazione

I risultati della ricerca saranno utilizzati per fornire ai decisori politici, alle autorità nel campo alimentare e ad altri stakeholders degli strumenti di lavoro con lo scopo di facilitare la comunicazione efficace e coerentenel campo alimentare e quindi favorire la comprensione dei consumatori attraverso messaggi chiari.

35 in-depth interviews conducted in Italy for the FoodRisC EC project

 

Photo of Patrick Wall, coordinator of FoodRisC

Patrick Wall, coordinator of FoodRisC

Hylobates Consulting is one of  fourteen partners of the EU 7th Framework project FoodRisC (Food Risk Communication – perceptions and communication of food risk/benefits across Europe), a three years project aimed at mapping out the  networks and information sources contributing to food risk and benefit communication across Europe. The project consortium is made up by research institutes, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), consumers organisations which altogether represent nine EU Member States.

Progress of work has been discussed during the 2nd meeting of the project which took place in London on March 3rd-4th 2011.

Hylobates has completed 35 interviews with consumers, experts and stakeholders  conducted in Italy. Similar interviews were carried out by other five partners of the project (Belgium, Ireland,  Latvia, Spain, The Netherlands). The results of the interviews from all countries involved will contribute to the assessment of food risk and benefit communication among consumers, experts and stakeholders representing different step of the food chain. In particular, the interviews will be analysed to identify the issues which are of most interest for consumers in relation to communication of food risk and benefit.

More generally the fields of investigation of the project include:

  • the characterization of food risk and benefit issues and the related communication implications
  • the potential role of new social media in communicating food risk/benefit
  • the way in which consumers respond to information they perceive as uncertain, contested or confusing and to develop relevant segmentation criteria
  • the applicability of the concept of information seeking to the design of food risk/benefit communications
  • developing practical ways in which consumer sense-making and deliberation can be taken into account in order to provide substantive benefits to stakeholders in developing communications.

The results of the research will be used to provide policy makers, food authorities and other stakeholders with a toolkit aimed at facilitating the effective and coherent communication on food and thus promoting consumer understanding through clear messages.

Hylobates Science

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