Consumer awareness and perceptions of arsenic exposure from rice and their willingness to change behavior

Sarah Farrell, Moira Dean, Tony Benson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Arsenic exposure from rice poses a potential chronic threat to human health. While research has been conducted on consumer risk perceptions of heavy metals in food, there is a paucity of research in relation to consumers' knowledge of and attitudes towards arsenic in rice. In order to fill this gap, the current study set out to explore consumer awareness and risk perceptions of this threat, and identify potential strategies to promote behavior change to reduce consumers' exposure to arsenic from rice. 47 participants took part in 6 focus groups. Discussions were transcribed verbatim and thematically analysed using NVivo 12. Three key themes emerged from the data: (1) consumer perceptions of risk information, (2) perceptions of food chain actors responsible for food safety and (3) factors influencing change in rice consumption behaviors. Consumers were found to lack evidence-based risk information relating to arsenic exposure from rice. Consumer trust in food chain actors responsible for food safety is varied and contributes to individual risk perceptions. Consumer risk perception, as a result of risk awareness and trust in the food chain, combined with a range of factors such as cost, convenience and sensory quality all contribute to consumers' willingness to change their current behavior. In order to effectively promote behavior change resulting in reduced arsenic exposure from rice, the following recommendations are made: (1) increasing consumers' risk perception of arsenic in rice, (2) building trust in those responsible for the safety of food and communication of risk information and (3) addressing the individually reported factors influencing consumers’ willingness to change their rice consumption and cooking behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107875
Number of pages9
JournalFood Control
Volume124
Early online date13 Jan 2021
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 13 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by EIT Food , the innovation community on Food of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology , a body of the European Union, under Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation [grant number 18097 ]. The funding body had no role in the design of the study; in the collection, analyses, or interpretation of the data; in the writing of the manuscript, and in the decision to submit the article for publication.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021

Copyright:
Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • Behavior change
  • Consumers
  • Focus groups
  • Qualitative study
  • Rice
  • Risk perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science

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