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  • Author or Editor: P. Mikulka x
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Between November 2016 and April 2017, 240 H5N8 outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza have been registered in Hungary resulting in the culling of 3.45 million poultry. Aiming at the prevention of the reoccurrence of the public scare experienced in regard of the H5N1 outbreak in 2006, in 2016 a more proactive and responsive communication activity has been implemented, which resulted in a total of 1661 media appearances. For consistent and credible information, all press inquiries were answered by the Chief Veterinary Officer of Hungary, and journalists received the requested information usually within 8 hours. In order to understand how effective communication methods help to stop decrease of poultry meat consumption, determinative factors according to consumer risk perception and changes in poultry meat consumption were identified. Analysis of the consumer survey conducted in 2016 showed that education and gender were the most important socio-demographic variables, though poultry consumption was almost completely undisturbed. The results of the 2016 consumer survey were compared to a corresponding dataset published on the 2006 avian influenza public scare, which showed 12.6% increase in the number of those respondents, who have not changed their consumption behaviour due to avian influenza.

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In recent years, there have been many changes in the food market, which have greatly transformed our approach to food chain supervision. The increasing complexity of the food chain (e.g. globalization of food trade, expansion of raw materials and additives, technical advancement), the frequent changes in food consumption trends and the phenomenon of food crime belong to the most challenging issues for food chain control institutions. These factors require the re-evaluation of the role of consumers in the food chain. The overall aim of this research was to explore consumers’ risk perception and risk avoidance for a more efficient, targeted risk communication. In the survey 1003, face-to-face interviews were made using questionnaire. The statistical analysis of data was followed by the identification and characterization of 4 relevant target groups with cluster analysis method: disinterested youngsters (17.0%), conscious elders (39.4%), food adepts (27.5%), and soul of the family (16.1%). Results indicated, that the Hungarian society can be segmented regarding to food associated risk perception and avoidance. It has been also proven, that risk perception is influenced by demographic factors. Furthermore, we have also managed to conclude that efficient risk communication would require a well-aimed and focused communication strategy.

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