Assessing the impact of the fipronil egg scandal on consumer behavior in Hungary

Monday, March 12, 2018

 

Authors: Sarolta Barna, Petra Mikulka, Zsuzsanna Frum, Dávid Szakos, Lajos Bognár, Gyula Kasza

 

1.       Summary

In addition to high pathogenicity avian influenza outbreak that started in the fall of 2016, the European poultry sector was also affected by the fipronil egg scandal that escalated quickly in August 2017. The above-mentioned incidents demanded rapid, decisive and coordinated action on the part of food chain safety authorities across Europe. Fast and continuous flow of credible information has been made possible by the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) of the European Union.

However, adequate authority measures alone do not guarantee the minimization of the economic damages caused by food scandals, therefore, great emphasis should be  placed on risk communication as well in similar cases. The basic principles of risk communication include objectivity, timeliness and clarity [5]. This way, it is possible to avoid unreasonably high drops in consumption in cases where the real health risk is not significant, or the risk has already been eliminated by the action taken by the authorities or businesses.

Changes in consumption habits were assessed by the National Food Chain Safety Office (NÉBIH) in the fall of 2017 through a questionnaire survey based on personal interviews with 1,000 people. According to the results, thanks to the consistent communication activity of the authority, the confidence of Hungarian consumers in eggs and egg-containing products did not fundamentally drop, and this is of particular importance in the reduction of economic damages.

 

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