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Food scandals, media exposure, and citizens’ safety concerns: A multilevel analysis across Chinese cities

Peng Liu and Liang Ma

Food Policy, 2016, vol. 63, issue C, 102-111

Abstract: It is both theoretically and socially imperative to understand what drives citizens’ concerns over food safety, as outbreaks of food related health hazards have become increasingly rampant in developing countries like China. In this paper we combine recent national survey data and media reports to quantitatively examine the effects of food scandals and media exposure on food safety risk. We find that media reported food scandals are not significantly related to public concern about food safety risk, suggesting that food risk perceptions may be nationwide rather than region specific. We also find out that more educated citizens with more media exposure are more concerned about food safety risk, and the amplification effect of food scandals is more prominent among residents with higher levels of education. In contrast to our expectation, family income is not significantly related to food safety concern. We also find that females, the elderly, and urban dwellers perceive higher levels of food risk than males, youngsters, and rural residents. The government should pay more attention to public perceptions of food safety, and strengthen its risk communication capacity to mitigate media amplification effects of food safety concern. The regulatory authorities can work with other entities (e.g., food industry and NGOs) to advance food safety education to equip the public with essential knowledge to mitigate the framing and spillover effects of food scandals and rumors.

Keywords: Food safety; Risk perception; Media exposure; Scandal; Multilevel model; China (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016
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