Building Trust in National Food Safety Programs: Strategies towards Effective Food Safety Regulation & Risk Communication
Andrew D. Roberts,* Paul.S. Teng, Andrew. D. Powell.
Asia Biobusiness Pte Ltd, No.3 Science Park Drive, # 02-12/25 Suite 37 The Franklin, Singapore 118223
Trust is an absolute imperative for national food safety and regulatory authorities to effectively regulate food systems and communicate risks to the public. However, in some countries food regulators are facing increased consumer skepticism and distrust as a consequence of various food scandals, a lack of perceived choice and control, and a lack of engagement in food safety decisions, all of which is overlaid with a general lack of trust in government agencies and many of those involved in the food chain.
The general ‘crisis’ of public trust in regulators and food safety authorities threatens entire food safety systems. The role that these bodies play as ‘trust intermediaries’ is essential to the functioning of the food system and its advancement through the introduction of novel agri- and food technologies. Furthermore, efforts to promote healthier consumption, through heath advocacy programs, center both on ‘affective’ and ‘behavioral’ types of trust, both of which are lacking in most countries in Asia-Pacific.
This presentation introduces specific structural, process, personnel, policy and organizational design elements as strategies to build organizational trust. The implications for effective risk communication in approval of novel technologies and promotion of healthy eating are discussed. Case studies from independent food safety authorities will demonstrate essential operational and strategic communication traits essential to building social trust with publics, mediating risk/benefit evaluations, garnering greater consumer acceptance (particularly where knowledge levels are low) and ensuring the integrity of the food system as a whole.
*Corresponding and presenting author.