The role of the media in construction and presentation of food risks

Julie Henderson, Annabelle Wilson, Samantha Meyer, John Coveney, Michael Calnan, Dean McCullum, Sue Lloyd, Paul Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


In this article we examine how and why the media construct food risks, from the perspective of ‘media actors’ (people involved in different types of media) using data from 30 interviews conducted in 2013 with media actors from Australia and the United Kingdom. In modern society, many risks are invisible and are brought to the attention of the public through representations in the mass media. This is particularly relevant for food safety, where the widening gap between producers and consumers in the developed world has increased the need for consumer trust in the food supply. We show the importance of newsworthiness in construction of media stories about food risk using Beck’s ideas on cosmopolitan risk to interpret the data. We note the ways in which the strategies that media actors use to construct stories about food risk amplify the risk posed potentially creating consumer anxiety about the safety of the food system. It is important for food regulators and public health professionals to be aware of this anxiety when presenting information about a food incident so that they can target their message accordingly to decrease anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-630
Number of pages16
JournalHealth Risk and Society
Issue number7-8
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2014


  • food
  • food incident
  • journalist
  • media
  • newsworthiness
  • risk


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