Food Protection Trends - July/August 2017 - 247

PEER-REVIEWED ARTICLE

Jing Ma,1* Barbara Almanza,2
Richard Ghiselli,2 Mihaela Vorvoreanu3
and Sandra Sydnor2

Food Protection Trends, Vol 37, No. 4, p. 247-255
Copyright© 2017, International Association for Food Protection
6200 Aurora Ave., Suite 200W, Des Moines, IA 50322-2864

Dept. of Hospitality Business Management, University of
Delaware, Newark, DE 19711, USA
School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Purdue
University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA
3
Dept. of Technology Leadership & Innovation, Purdue
University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA
1

2

Food Safety Information on the Internet:
Consumer Media Preferences
ABSTRACT
Broader food safety communication may help
engage consumers and contribute to an overall
improvement in food safety. Results of an online
questionnaire demonstrate the importance of
the Internet in food safety communications about
foodborne illness outbreaks. Despite the great
potential of social media, websites are currently
the preferred platform for communication about
foodborne illness outbreaks. Media properties such
as searchability and interactivity, together with
information quality (e.g., accuracy and timeliness)
and source characteristics (e.g., trustworthiness),
influence consumers' evaluation of and preference
for media type. Information quality carried the most
weight when users evaluated an Internet-based
platform, and searchability was the most valued
media functionality. The results of this study have
important implications for resource allocation.
Agencies interested in communicating foodborne
illness outbreak information may want to focus their
efforts on users' website experiences. Improvements

in search abilities are needed, although provision
of high-quality information should still take priority.
When information quality is maintained, utilizing
Internet-based platforms can help reduce costs and
save resources. The fact that a small percentage
of consumers do not want to use the Internet to
find foodborne illness outbreak information indicates
the need to employ a communication strategy that
incorporates multiple media.

INTRODUCTION
Foodborne illness outbreaks can cause considerable
losses to our society and economy (8, 21). Efforts to ensure
food safety should include communicating information
about foodborne illness outbreaks to consumers. In fact,
communicating food safety information has been shown to
be effective in engaging consumers (12, 46) and improving
food safety controls, such as improving inspection results
(3, 31) and reducing the number of individuals hospitalized
(31). Media coverage of foodborne illness outbreaks can
also affect a company or brand. For example, Jack in the
Box, almost 30 years after their own outbreak, still suffers a

*Author for correspondence: Phone: +1 302.831.6514; Fax: +1 302.831.6395; E-mail: jingma@udel.edu

July/August Food Protection Trends

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Food Protection Trends - July/August 2017

Contents
Food Protection Trends - July/August 2017 - Cover1
Food Protection Trends - July/August 2017 - Cover2
Food Protection Trends - July/August 2017 - Contents
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