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Title: Developing consumer-focused risk communication strategies related to food terrorism

Authors: Sara Eggers; Linda Verrill; Cory M. Bryant; Sarah L. Thorne

Addresses: Decision Partners, LLC, 2504 Chapel Hill Rd., Unit B Durham N.C., 27707, USA. ' US Food and Drug Administration, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, 5100 Paint Branch Parkway, Rm. 1B-052, HFS-020, College Park, MD 20740, USA. ' US Food and Drug Administration, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food Defense Oversight Team, 5100 Paint Branch Parkway, Rm. 2A-015, HFS-005, College Park, MD 20740, USA. ' Decision Partners, LLC, 65 Harbour Square Suite 3404, Toronto, Ontario M5J 2L4, Canada

Abstract: An essential component of food defence, consumer-focused risk communication strategies related to food terrorism (FT) threats should reflect an in-depth understanding of consumers| perceptions, priorities, and information needs related to those threats. To support development of communication strategies, we used a mental models approach to risk communication method to design, conduct and analyse 50 semi-structured telephone interviews with US adults. Interviewees generally lacked well-defined mental models specific to FT, and, instead, drew on their perceptions of terrorism in general, accidental contamination, product recalls, and emergency preparedness. Assessments of their personal threat of FT were influenced by their beliefs about the nature of terrorism, their confidence in government and the food system to prevent and respond to terrorism threats, and their personal control over food choices. These qualitative research results support guidance for developing and implementing consumer-focused FT risk communications strategies.

Keywords: food terrorism; agroterrorism; bioterrorism; food defence; risk communication; consumers; mental models; perceptions; information; public health agencies; USA; United States; food security; food protection; terrorist threat; terrorist attacks.

DOI: 10.1504/IJFSNPH.2011.042574

International Journal of Food Safety, Nutrition and Public Health, 2011 Vol.4 No.1, pp.45 - 62

Available online: 17 Sep 2011 *

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