In spite of efforts to improve safety throughout the food chain, globalization of the food trade presents new challenges to assure food safety. Any contamination that occurs in one country may have severe consequences on both health and trade in other countries. Moreover, the events of September 11, 2001 and the subsequent anthrax incidents gave rise to concerns about food terrorism. The destructive impact of food contamination, intentional or unintentional, could easily affect an enormous amount of people and could result in high costs for the world’s economy. Besides its effects on health and economy, deliberate or accidental food contamination may have social implications such as social and political instability. Contamination of food from biological agents is a focus of concern across various disciplines within the risk analysis field. Natural scientists are mainly concerned about risk assessment, whereas social scientists are focused on risk perception and risk communication. The integration between these two disciplines is quite limited, whereas effective campaigns would require collaboration between natural and social sciences, the former to ensure that the advice is technically sound, the latter to ensure that is accepted and executed (Fischer et al., 2005). Fischhoff et al. (2006) have pursued such an integrated strategy in many other domains, using risk analysis models to focus and coordinate the relevant behavioral and natural sciences. The proposed project would strengthen the behavioral realism of this integrated approach and apply it to the possibility of deliberate or accidental food contamination with a biological agent. Specifically, the expertise of natural and social science experts will be combined and used to communicate with European consumers about the nature of these risks and the things that they can do to control them.
Fields of science
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