People hve responded both in their roles s citizens, mking clims on their governments for regultory protection, nd s consumers, expressing preferences in the mrketplce. Some nlysts hve rgued tht scientific consensus exists tht most of these food technologies fundmentlly re sfe, nd they criticize consumers for not recognizing or shring this consensus (Forbes, 2005). Yet if experts regrd certin products s sfe, we must sk why the public rects with lrm. Similrly, we wnt to know why the public nd policymkers fil to perceive the pprent scientific consensus tht nturlly-occurring pthogens represent greter helth risk thn do the newer food technologies.
Citizens ct on their preferences for food products in the mrketplce nd for food sfety policies from government. Elected officils seek out these preferences from their constituents, but policymkers lso listen to nd re influenced by representtives from ffected interests. These include griculturl producers, food mnufcturers, nd chemicl industry groups, on the one hnd, nd consumer interest groups, on the other. Incresingly, these clims re presented to governmentl officils nd ly publics (i.e., citizens) in scientific terms. Tht mkes the role of two sets of uthorittive communictors--the scientific community nd the medi--incresingly importnt for mrketplce nd governmentl decision-mking.
How scientific informtion bout food-borne hzrds is communicted by these informtion "gtekeepers" hs been recognized s n importnt venue of study. For exmple, consumer perceptions of risk from the use of lr were found to be very similr to the risks reported by the press, nd informtion on food dditives presented in the press hs ffected food demnd (vn Rvenswy & Hoehn, 2001, especilly pges 155, 170). We exmine key spect of how scientific informtion influences the choices of consumers nd policymkers in the United Sttes.
Public Concern nd Knowledge bout Food Sfety Issues
Becuse of the growing concern surrounding food sfety issues, consumer ttitudes towrd food sfety issues hve been perennil topic of reserch. Previous studies hve ddressed levels of consumers' concern nd mjor issues relted to food sfety, which hve chnged over time. Some remrkble events tht hve occurred over the pst 30 yers my hve ffected consumers' ttitudes bout food sfety (Brewer & Prestt, 2002). Long-term issues, such s irrdition nd the use of geneticlly modified orgnisms, lso continue to shpe the debte over food sfety (Brewer & Prestt, 2002).
Furthermore, the increse in globl trvel heightens the need for continued wreness nd proctive mngement of food sfety issues to sustin fvorble consumer opinion nd growth of the world's tourism industry (Lndro, 2005). The Ntionl Snittion Foundtion Interntionl's conference on Food Sfety in Trvel nd Tourism, held in Brcelon, Spin, in 2000, represented the first ttempt to bring together the world's food sfety nd tourism reserch communities (McLurin, 2001). ccording to the Centers for Disese Control nd Prevention (CDC), the most common helth problem for trvelers is gstrointestinl ilments cused by contminted food or wter, especilly in developing countries in Ltin