New Guide to Support Food Safety Communication Efforts



As the world’s food economy continues to expand and international supply chains grow ever more complex, many countries are seeking ways to enhance their food safety knowledge and capacity-building. One such area is food safety communication.

Food Industry Asia (FIA) recognises the importance of effective and accurate communications about food safety, which involves a variety of experts, including governments, non-profit educational organisations, scientists and journalists. The food industry produces billions of tonnes of safe and nutritious food every day thanks to continuous advances in science and research, but we need to build and improve public awareness and confidence in our food systems and give everyone the tools they need to understand the risks.

As such, FIA applauds the recent collaborative effort undertaken by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation and the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) in Beijing, as well as the release of the IFIC Foundation's Food Safety: A Communicator's Guide to Improving Understanding.

Matt Kovac, FIA Policy Director, says that it is very timely that the IFIC Foundation has issued this guide on food safety communications. “The Guide will go a long way in helping to enhance capacity-building among health professionals, food and nutrition stakeholders, government officials and journalists in China and the region, at a time when food safety is a topic that is generating a lot of consumer interest.”

“With China’s new food safety law that came into effect on 1 October 2015, and the need to support capacity-building on food safety in China and the ASEAN region, a guide to support better understanding on food safety is timely,” says Mr Kovac.

The full details of the Guide can be found in the press release issued by IFIC, found below.

IFIC Foundation Press Release

IFIC Foundation Releases Food Safety Communicator's Guide in Beijing

The International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation released Food Safety: A Communicator’s Guide to Improving Understanding during a landmark two-day workshop co-hosted with the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) in September 2015.

The Guide, which was prepared by IFIC Foundation with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service, provides health professionals, food and nutrition stakeholders, government officials, journalists, and others a variety of tools to help with effective planning and execution of food safety risk communication through a practical, hands-on approach for communicators.

“Safe food for all people is a universal goal,” said Kimberly Reed, IFIC Foundation President. “It is a great honour to launch this needed resource here in Beijing during our joint workshop with the China Food and Drug Administration for 120 Chinese government officials and journalists.”

“In the overall view, risk communication is still in the early stage in China. We are trying to build risk communication platforms for all of the stakeholders proactively,” said Ms. Du Xiaoxi, CFDA Deputy Director-General, Department III, Food Safety Inspection Division. “We are drafting risk communication guidelines for Chinese circumstances. The need for risk communication experts in our administration is very important. This is why we are holding this training program.”

Tony Flood, IFIC Foundation Senior Director for Food Safety and Defense, noted that “food safety is a shared responsibility, and the IFIC Foundation is honoured to release this Guide as we celebrate Food Safety Education Month, which occurs each September. This resource will enable key stakeholders – including government officials, journalists, academic and health experts, as well as consumers – to enhance public trust and confidence in the safety of our global food supply.”

The IFIC Foundation-China FDA workshop featured leading experts from the U.S., China – including the China FDA, China National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment, China Agricultural University, and Peking University – and the World Health Organization. Reed’s opening remarks to the group are included in their entirety below.

Effective risk communication depends greatly on audience characteristics, as well as local and national cultural contexts in which the communication occurs. To that end, the Guide provides tools and templates for risk communication in unique environments, and discussion about specific food safety situations.

The Guide includes many useful tools for communicators, and features topics including:

• Defining Food Safety;
• Building a Practical Framework for Successful Food Safety Risk Communication;
• Guidelines for Interacting with News Media; and
• Regulating & Communicating Food Safety on Global and Local Levels.

An electronic version of the full Guide is available at www.foodinsight.org/foodsafetyguide.

The Guide also will be translated into a variety of languages including, Mandarin Chinese, Vietnamese, Bahasa Indonesian, and others. Check www.foodinsight.org/foodsafetyguide, where they will be posted in the next few months.

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