What are the important issues around food safety and nutrition? Findings from a media analysis and qualitative study of consumer trust

Julie Henderson, Paul Ward, John Coveney, Samantha Meyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: The increased focus on the prevention of illness and the promotion of health and wellbeing creates new and exciting opportunities for health care professionals to engage with their patients. One such area of engagement is around food safety and nutrition, given the central importance of these to maintenance of health. In order to enhance meaningful engagement with patients, health care professionals need to be aware of the messages that their patients are currently receiving from the media about food safety and nutrition, and also the general awareness and perceptions of these issues within the lay populace. This paper presents an analysis of media stories and interviews with consumers. Method: Media stories were analysed for five Australian newspapers from January 2006 to June 30th 2008 for all articles relating to food and trust except letters to the editor. All articles were then subject to discourse analysis. In addition, interviews were undertaken with 47 participants. Results: The most prevalent media stories about regulatory strategies for addressing childhood obesity (16.7%, N=120 articles). Stories about the contamination of food, either by bacteria or foreign objects was the second most prevalent theme (14.9%, N=107), followed by stories about the regulation of GM food (13.9%, N=100 articles). The qualitative findings highlight the high levels of trust in the Australian food supply and food safety regulation, but low levels of trust in media reporting around food safety and diet. For some people, the media reporting lead to confusion around food safety and diet issues. Discussion: Confusion about, and rejection of, media messages about healthy eating have the potential to contribute to the development of chronic illness through a failure to adopt lifestyle changes. Furthermore, it may inhibit the seeking of appropriate information by people with chronic illness. Given a growing emphasis upon primary care and health literacy, health care professionals need to be aware of the messages that their patients receive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-169
Number of pages6
JournalAustralasian Medical Journal
Volume1
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2010

Keywords

  • Food safety
  • Media
  • Nutrition
  • Primary health
  • Qualitative research

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