Title: Social trust and risk knowledge, perception and behaviours resulting from a rice tampering scandal

Authors: Lulu Rodriguez; Jing Li; Sela Sar

Addresses: Agricultural Communications Program, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 274 Bevier Hall, 905 S. Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801, USA ' HNA Plaza, No. 7 Guoxing Avenue, Haikou, Hainan 570203, China ' Charles H. Sandage Department of Advertising, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 44 Gregory Hall, 810 S. Wright Street, Urbana, IL 61801, USA

Abstract: When the renowned Wuchang rice was mixed with rice of low quality and scented with fake aroma, the Chinese people were subjected to yet another case of food safety breach. This study examines the role of trust in shaping public knowledge about, risk perception of, and protective behaviours resulting from this product tampering incident in Xi'an, China. The results of a survey of a snowball sample of residents in the city's urban centres indicate that although most respondents were aware about the product tampering, they knew little about its details and the nature or severity of the threat. They saw the incident as subjecting them to involuntary risk. Trust in media influenced perceptions that experts were familiar with the health threats. Trust in government positively correlated with perceived novelty of the risks, had a bearing on perceptions that experts were aware of the risks, and that these risks can be controlled. Trust in media, in government, and in interpersonal information sources had no impact on risk knowledge and behaviour.

Keywords: food safety; China; risk communication; risk knowledge; risk perceptions; risk behaviour; Wuchang rice contamination; trust; government; media; interpersonal communication; public health; social trust; rice tampering; food tampering; food scandals; product tampering.

DOI: 10.1504/IJFSNPH.2014.063513

International Journal of Food Safety, Nutrition and Public Health, 2014 Vol.5 No.1, pp.80 - 96

Received: 30 Oct 2013
Accepted: 15 May 2014

Published online: 16 Jul 2014 *

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