Consumers’ perceptions of food risks: A snapshot of the Italian Triveneto area.
Sommaire de l'article
This study investigated the food risk perceptions of people living in the Triveneto area (Northeast Italy), a territory characterized by a particular interest in the production of quality foodstuffs, to determine what aspects people associate with food risk and to understand what beliefs underlie these perceptions. Four focus groups were conducted in the major towns of the target area (N = 45). A semi-structured interview was used that focused on beliefs about food risks, the use of information and media sources in relation to food risk, and the behaviours adopted when eating outside the home. A homogeneous view of food risk emerged among the respondents, and a common definition of risky food was identified. The concept of risk was in opposition to the quality and controllability of food, which emerged as major strategies to cope with food risks. Quality was linked to freshness and local origin, whereas controllability reflected a direct (e.g., checking labels, having a relationship with the vendor, cultivating one's own vegetable garden) or indirect (e.g., control guarantees provided by suppliers and the government) means to check the safety and quality of food. Although people seemed quite informed about food risks, a common sense of impotence with regard to one's own protection prevailed, together with a fatalistic sense of incomplete control over risk. The results identified food concerns for consumers living in this specific territory and might represent a starting point for public health authorities to increase compliance with responsible behaviours for risk mitigation and to define successful food policies for this area.