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Consumer Confidence in Food Risk Management in EuropeResults from a multi-phase study E Van Kleef, J Houghton, G Rowe & L Frewer SRA-E, 10-13 September 2006, Ljubljana
Outline • Project background • Research questions • Study design • Qualitative results • Quantitative results • Implications for food risk management (FRM)
Background • EU 6th Framework Programme project • Promoting Food Safety through a New Integrated Risk Analysis Approach for Foods – SAFE FOODS • Aims to promote the safety of the European food chain • Reinforces EU policy framework of strengthening consumer confidence in food safety
Background • Work Package 4 • Consumer confidence in food risk management (FRM)
Research questions • How are current FRM practices perceived by various stakeholders? • Consumers • Experts • How well do stakeholders understand one another’s views in relation to FRM? • What are the factors driving consumer confidence in FRM?
Study design • Multi-phase research programme, employing mixed methods • Five European countries • Denmark • Germany • Greece • Slovenia • UK
Study design • Qualitative phase • Focus groups • Consumers • Experts (food safety scientists, food risk assessors, food risk managers) • Perceptions of effectiveness of current FRM practices • Follow-up interviews • Focus group participants • Confronted with each other’s views on FRM • No follow-up interviews in Slovenia
Study design • Quantitative phase • Cross-national survey on consumers’ food risk management evaluations • Internet questionnaire (except Slovenia) • Items in survey informed by results from qualitative work • 2533 consumer respondents in five countries • Representative in terms of gender, age and educational level
Qualitative results • Focus groups - five key themes common to consumer & expert participants’ perceptions of FRM • Efforts • Responsibility • Priorities • Science • Media • Issues not represented in the same way by both groups
Qualitative results • Efforts made by the authorities to manage food risks • Existence of established systems of control • “Systems in place”, “prompt action”, “rigorous enforcement” • Experts more positive in their evaluations • Instigation of preventive measures • Provision of information and education • Trade off between education & “information overload”
Qualitative results • Responsibility • Consumer views related to perceived level of control over exposure to risk • Experts emphasised the importance of everyone in the food chain taking responsibility for their role in the process of FRM • Priorities - is consumer health protection prioritised in FRM? • Experts, in general, believe it is • Consumers are not so sure
Qualitative results • Science – scientific progress and its implications for FRM • Consumer participants – concerns about “constant race” and “vicious circle” • Expert participants – concerns about complexity and “emerging” or “hidden” risks • Media - the impact of media attention of FRM • Positive and negative associations • What’s being done. What’s gone wrong • Experts blamed media for making consumers unnecessarily worried about food safety
Qualitative results • Follow-up interviews • Often agreement with expressed views • Reasons for agreement different – for example … CONSUMER VIEW Due to quality of information Continuing problems & areas not covered EXPERT VIEW Consumers’ lack willingness to acquire information FRM adequate and consumers happy Consumers’ lack knowledge about food safety Authorities make efforts to manage food risks
Quantitative study: data analysis • The constructs • Proactive consumer protection • Opaque and reactive risk management • Scepticism in risk assessment and risk communication practices • Trust in expertise of food risk managers • Trust in honesty of food risk managers
Quantitative results item4 Proactive Measurement model item7 item8 Opaque item13 item1 FRM quality item14 Sceptical item2 item3 item17 Trust in honesty item18 item28 item29 Trust in expertise (2(2400)=7834, p<0.01; RMSEA=0.07). item33
Quantitative results Proactive Structural model Opaque FRM quality Sceptical Trust in honesty Trust in expertise (2(2420)=8429, p<0.01; RMSEA=0.07).
Quantitative results • One of the measurement scales There is an established system for controlling food risks Pro-active consumer protection The authorities will respond quickly if a food safety problem appears The authorities put a lot of effort into preventing food risks Food safety laws are stringently enforced by the authorities
Quantitative study: data analysis • Cross-national validity of measurement instrument • Configural and metric invariance across countries • Country differences in regression coefficients • Series of nested structural equation models was tested
Quantitative results: no country differences Proactive Opaque (-0.11*) FRM quality Sceptical Trust in honesty (0.01) Trust in expertise (*p<0.05)
Quantitative results: country differences Proactive (0. 51*) (0. 27*) (1.97*) (0. 57*) (0. 45*) Opaque FRM quality Sceptical (-0.22) (-0.34*) (-0.30*) (-0.16*) (-0.71) Trust in honesty Trust in expertise (*p<0.05) (0.57*) (0.99*) (0.30) (0.87*) (0.94*)
Quantitative results • Factors of universal importance related to food risk management quality evaluations: • Pro-active consumer protection • Opaque and reactive risk management • Trust in the expertise of food risk managers (except Greece) • Factors of local importance related to food risk management quality evaluations: • Scepticism in risk assessment and communication practices
Implications for FRM • For communication • Provide the right consumers with the right information through the right source • For management • Provide proactive communication about various factors inherent in risk management and risk assessment • Incorporate the views and opinions of all stakeholders in the process of risk analysis • Understand consumer concerns