Evaluation of state-operated risk communication
Recently, Public attention of food safety issues has increased considerably and risk communication is increasingly recognized.
In Germany, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) assesses health risks and draws up recommendations on risk reduction to strengthen consumer health protection. It presents risk recommendations in such a way, that they can be easily understood by the general public. Furthermore, reliably communicating on consumer safety risks is in the centre of BfR’s work. The results of its work serve as the basis for scientific advice to the relevant federal ministries and other administrations, the industry, consumer associations, NGOs as well as the media.
Recommendations on risk reductions need to be perceived, properly understood and put into operation according to their relevance. Communicating on safety issues needs to be transparent and easily comprehensible. Accordingly, in order to be beneficial and useful to consumers and other stakeholders, recommendations have to make known their information sources and possible uncertainties.
· Therefore, effective risk communication has to be comprehensible, transparent and usable.
· Secondly, effective risk communication has to adjust to the needs of its audience.
· Thirdly, risks have to be communicated according to their respective risks.
Within this framework, it is the purpose of this research project to analyze and evaluate the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment’s message-centered approach to risk communication in-depth. As a result, profound and well-founded guidelines will be developed.
A survey (in administrative offices for citizens as well as on-line) will be used to survey the level of awareness on food safety issues among customers. Subsequently, in-depth interviews will be conducted to examine, whether comprehensibility, transparency and usability are accomplished. In addition to customers, managers in administrations, industry, consumer organizations and media representatives will be interviewed.