Consumer perceptions of the effectiveness of food risk management practices: A cross-cultural study

Julie R. Houghton, Ellen van Kleef , Gene Rowe, Lynn J. Frewer.
Journal: Health, Risk & Society, June 2006, 8(2), pp 165-183.


Consumer perceptions of food hazards and how the associated risks are managed are likely to be an important determinant of consumer confidence in food safety. While there is a body of research that examines public perceptions of various types of food hazards, less attention has been directed to understanding how the public perceives food risk management practices. Utilizing elements of the repertory grid approach in focus group discussions, this research explored public attitudes regarding the effectiveness of current food risk management practices in four European countries (Denmark, Germany, Greece and the UK).

While the issue of food safety did not emerge as a key factor in everyday food choice, participants were concerned about health aspects of food. There were three main factors that participants considered to be evidence of ‘good’ food risk management: the existence of identifiable control systems that respond quickly to contain a risk, the instigation of preventive measures and the availability of information that offers individuals the ability to exercise informed choice. These evaluations were similar in each of the countries under consideration and were linked to ideas regarding the controllability of risks and to questions of who is responsible for managing the risks.


Risk perceptions, food hazards, consumer behaviour, food risk management, trust