Risk Ranking: Investigating Expert and Public Differences in Evaluating Food Safety Risks

Abstract

The allocation of resources with respect to food safety issues requires that decision-makers prioritize these issues, which may conflict with the public’s opinions on these matters. These differences between the experts’ perception of risk and that of the public were examined. A modified Carnegie Mellon risk ranking model was used to rank six food safety issues. The six food safety issues used in the discussions were: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella, botulism, Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP), and acrylamide. Focus groups were conducted using public (n=29) and expert (n=21) participants, and a public survey was commissioned to further explore the focus group results. Key themes were identified from the focus groups as reasons why risks were rated high or low. Explanations for why choices were made included availability, affect, numeracy and optimistic bias. The effect of attribute framing seemed to be the most influential in a participant’s choices.Risk ranking, Food safety, Experts, Public, Agribusiness, Agricultural and Food Policy, Consumer/Household Economics, Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety, D81, Q18, I18,

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This paper was published in Research Papers in Economics.

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