WHICH FOOD SAFETY INFORMATION SOURCES DO ITALIAN CONSUMERS PREFER? SUGGESTIONS FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF EFFECTIVE FOOD RISK COMMUNICATION
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Which food safety information sources do Italian consumers prefer? Suggestions for the development of effective food risk communication

 

This study investigated which information sources Italian consumers use most frequently when they have a question about food safety in order to obtain useful insights to inform food risk communication. In 2011, a national survey was conducted targeting Italian people responsible for purchasing and preparing food for their households. Respondents’ choices of information sources on food safety were correlated with their socio-demographic and behavioural characteristics, their levels of objective knowledge, their levels of trust towards some authorities and their levels of self-perception regarding risk exposure. Our data analysis identified those information channels that are most likely to reach Italians actively seeking information. Mass media (radio/television/newspapers) were the most frequently used information source, followed by the Internet. Age, educational qualification, employment status, geographical area, family status and objective knowledge were the variables that influenced the choice for information sources used by the Italian population. The frequency of buying food products, the frequency of eating put and the frequency of cooking also showed a dependency relation. The profiles of those who actively seek information were also outlined. Among these, the Mass media users’ and the Internet users’ profiles were further analysed. Results show that Italian consumers do actively seek information about food safety, revealing that food safety continues to be a concern for the Italian consumers. Their interest in this topic represents an opportunity for public health authorities to address an audience of receptive consumers. Such information will be valuable in the design of targeted communication campaigns to increase consumers’ knowledge and awareness of food safety issues and will help authorities to choose the most effective channels through which to deliver key messages.

Keywords: Italian consumers, food safety, information sources, risk communication

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