Foodborne diseases contribute substantially to the overall burden of disease, including hospitalizations, economic loss, and death. Nonetheless, in contrast to food safety experts, the public usually perceives foodborne diseases as low risk, which highlights the differences in the perception of the risk. Many studies have shown that risk perception is a complex concept determined by a variety factors. Among the factors associated with increased concern are high media attention and an impact on children.
Risk communication is a new concept aimed at the providing meaningful, relevant, and accurate information. The purpose is to increase knowledge and enable the recipients to make informed choices. The process of risk communication is complicated by the many contributors, including experts, lay people, risk managers, media, and other stakeholders. It is a two-way process that requires respecting and listening to the contributors. The risk message and its originator are crucial components that account for the success of risk communication.
Communication campaigns aim at raising awareness of hygienic food preparation at home, changing risk behavior, and reducing the number of foodborne infections. By considering the determinants of risk perception and the rules for communicating effectively, risk communication can help preventing foodborne infections and improve public health.
 D. Byrne: “Irrational fears or legitimate concerns - Risk perception in perspective”, In: Speech at Risk perception: Science, Public Debate and Policy making conference, Brussels, 4 December 2003, (unpublished).
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