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Public perceptions of the dioxin incident in Irish pork

Kennedy J, Delaney L, Hudson E, McGloin A & Wall P (2010) Public perceptions of the dioxin incident in Irish pork, Journal of Risk Research, 13 (7), pp. 937-949.

In early December 2008, a global recall of Irish pork was initiated as a result of a subset of the national pork output being contaminated with dioxin. In this study, members of a panel from an Internet‐based longitudinal monitor of public opinion on food and health issues were used to assess public perceptions about the dioxin incident in late December. Although most respondents did not regard food as posing a risk to health, a larger proportion of respondents reported that that there was a ‘very high' health risk from pork (8.6%) compared to any other food of animal origin. However, when asked to rank the risk posed to human health from a broad range of food and non‐food hazards, PCBs/dioxins were considered to pose less of a risk than high fat food, chemical pollution, or tanning. The majority of respondents (70.5%) considered that the authorities managed the incident in an ‘adequate' or ‘very efficient' manner. Respondents who considered that the authorities' management of the incident was ‘incompetent' rated the risk associated with eating Irish pork to be higher than those who considered that the authorities' management was ‘very efficient'. Both the European Food Safety Authority and the Irish food safety authorities pronounced that there was no risk to human health from the level of dioxin in the pork. These communications, coupled with the rapid handling of the incident in an open and transparent way, reassured consumers and maintained their confidence in the food supply.

Dioxin crisis; Risk perception; Risk communication

AuthorsKennedy Jean, Delaney Liam, Hudson Eibhlin, McGloin Aileen, Wall Patrick
Publication date2010
PublisherTaylor & Francis (Routledge)
ISSN 1366-9877

Journal of Risk Research: Volume 13, Issue 7

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