Food Safety Messaging: Using Research to Build Trust

The Situation

Americans expect the U.S. food supply to be safe. But food safety has its complexities, and it’s easy for consumers to be confused. Media stories often provide conflicting or inflammatory accounts about what is safe and what is not safe to consume. The proliferation of social media discussions about food safety adds to the clutter.

Our client, a major food association, develops science-based messages designed to improve public understanding of food safety issues. To shape these messages they needed to assess in detail the range of public understanding about food safety so that they could speak more effectively to those public information needs. In short, they wanted to bridge the gap between what scientists know and what consumers hear in order to build consumer confidence and trust.

Our Recommendation

Artemis Strategy Group designed and implemented a sophisticated study with both qualitative and quantitative components that provided “what” people know and do about food purchase and consumption, as well as the “why’s” behind their attitudes and decisions. The study results determined that negative perceptions were certainly created from external forces, but also that some industry marketing practices contributed to misperceptions and confusion among consumers. The research identified powerful and effective ways to communicate with consumers to boost their understanding of the issues and confidence to make daily food purchase decisions.

The Outcome

Our research provided our client with a set of guiding principles to help improve public understanding of the valuable U.S. food supply. These principles include guidance on language that conveys safety ideas, message formulation to provide an appropriate foundation of support, the role of source citation and use of credible experts to help convey meaningful information.