Risk Communication

 

This topic was moderated by Gloria Swick-Brown, MSA, REHS, RS, and Shu-Chen Hsieh, Ph.D. and featured four lectures.

 

Gloria Swick-Brown, MSA, REHS, RS, Sanitarian Food Specialist Emeritus, Ohio Department of Health, USA gave a presentation titled, “Managing Food Safety Risk from Farm to Fork.” Ms. Swick-Brown discussed management of food safety risk across supply chains, noting that food safety involves a variety of different types of entities including laboratories, universities, government inspectors, companies and agricultural producers. Ms. Swick-Brown highlighted innovative new practices being implemented to ensure food safety, such as methods that allow for the use of fewer chemicals, introduction of less contamination, and better packaging. She noted that agriculture is the occupation of almost 50% of the world’s population, and that there are approximately 2.2 million farms in the United States alone, covering 914 million acres of land. She emphasized that the threats posed by various diseases and contaminants to livestock, grains, produce, and the water supply continue to grow, our role in protecting the global food supply becomes ever more critical.

 

Chang-Chuan Chan, Sc.D., Professor and Deputy Dean, Institute of Occupational Medicine and Industrial Hygiene, National Taiwan University, Taiwan discussed best methods to manage risk of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in Taiwan, and noted prevalence of miscommunication and uncertainty regarding food safety, particularly in the case of imported beef. Dr. Chan proposed an overhaul of the food safety risk management paradigm in Taiwan toward a circular model which involves all stakeholders in a culturally-sensitive manner in order to better communicate accurate and relevant food safety risk information to the wider population.

 

Douglas Powell, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Diagnostic Medicine, Kansas State University, USA discussed food safety risk and the intersections of assessment, management, and communication in ensuring a safe food supply. He noted that ensuring food safety and mitigating risk requires rigorous science, evidence-based decisions, and transparent communication between actors across supply chains and sectors, and emphasized that all of these must be strong in order to prevent food safety risks. Dr. Powell stated that communication must be anchored by strong science and rigorous and thorough management practices, and discussed effective ways to communicate with multiple audiences using multiple media.

 

Jun Sekizawa, Ph.D., President, Communication Center for Food and Health Sciences, Japan shared lessons learned from food radionuclide contamination following the Fukushima Nuclear Plant accident. Dr. Sekizawa emphasized that a new paradigm of the food safety governance and effective response system are required in Japan to cope with this unprecedented large scale nuclear power plant accident. Dr. Sekizawa noted the immense challenges involved in managing the effects of such an event, including response and coordination at the appropriate scale, and coordination among risk management authorities.