Social media as a useful tool in food risk and benefit communication? A strategic orientation approach

P. Rutsaert, Z. Pieniak, A. Regan, A. McConnon, M. Kuttschreuter, M. Lores, N. Lozano, A. Guzzon, D Santare, W. Verbeke

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Although considerable progress has been made in understanding the determinants of risk perception and in identifying the necessary components of effective food risk and benefit communication, this has not been matched with the development of efficient and appropriate communication tools. Little work has been done examining the implications of the explosion of new media and web technologies, which may offer potential for improving food risk and benefit communication. First, this study examines the views of stakeholders (n= 38) and experts (n= 33) in the food domain on the potential use of these emerging media for food risk/benefit communication. Based on in-depth interviews in six European countries (Belgium, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Spain and The Netherlands), strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) of social media in food risk and benefit communication were identified. Second, a Strategic Orientation Round (SOR) was used to evaluate the relative importance of the SWOT components according to stakeholders (n= 10) and experts (n= 13). Results show that both stakeholders and experts confirm a future role of social media in food risk and benefit communication. Strengths as speed, accessibility and interaction make social media an interesting tool in crisis communication or issue awareness raising. Weaknesses as the lack of a filter, low trust, the risk of information overload and a communication preference for traditional media are acknowledged
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)84-93
Number of pages10
JournalFood policy
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • METIS-303446
  • IR-90610

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