Through a case study analysis, this paper examines how scientific testing was involved in both the triggering and the resolution of the largest food safety scare ever to hit New Zealand. The paper examines the practical applications for communicators dealing with food safety-based risks and discusses how when dealing with crises, they need to take into account lay publics’ biases towards assurances of zero risk. This should be part of determining audiences’ information needs and of calibrating the provision of scientific information, including information about necessary testing, in ways that meet these needs. Doing so will help build trust, including about the scientific method and the organisations applying it to determine not only the nature of a given risk but also to assess how best it might be mitigated. While distrust might surface in a risk-based crisis, communicators should focus on messaging that addresses uncertainty through providing consistent and credible information.
Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal, 2019, 2019, 20 pp. 42 - 58
© 2019. The Author.
Public Relations Institute of Australia