Experts and Activists: How Information Affects the Demand for Food Irradiation

Hayes, Dermot J.; Fox, John A.; Shogren, Jason F.

Food Policy Vol. 27 no. 2 (April 2002): 185-193.

The public must decide between assertions made about food safety through irradiation by advocacy groups and by scientific experts. Herein we discuss the policy implications of experimental results that show how favorable and unfavorable information on food irradiation to reduce risks affects willingness-to-pay to control the food-borne pathogen Trichinella in irradiated pork. The surprising result is that when we presented both positive and negative information simultaneously, the negative information clearly dominated. This was true even though the source of the negative information was identified as being a consumer advocacy group and the information itself was written in a manner that was non-scientific. Keywords: Food demand; Information impact; Consumer experiments