Consumers' Dependency on Media for Information about Food Safety Incidents Related to the Beef Industry



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Food safety has become an important topic in today's mainstream media. Food safety incidents, specifically related to the beef industry, have the potential to damage the beef industry severely, and negative coverage in the media can alter consumers' perceptions and attitudes toward the beef industry. This study examined consumers' media dependency during normal times when a food safety incident is not occurring or is not expected to occur and during times of a potential food safety incident. This study also compared rural, urban, and suburban respondents' media dependencies and described consumer perceptions of the beef industry. The target population was Texas A & M University former students registered with a valid email address in a database maintained by The Association of Former Students. An online questionnaire was created on and sent to respondents over a four-week time period.

Most of the respondents were educated, married, 50 years of age, and had some agricultural experiences. Respondents reported using more media during normal times than during a potential food safety incident. There was a level of concern among respondents toward aspects of the beef industry, such as use of antibiotics and growth hormones, and some concerns about respondent's health being affected by a food safety incident.

The researcher concluded that respondents use multiple mediums to receive information about any issue; therefore agricultural communicators should target consumer messages to multiple mediums. Messages also should be constructed to address concerns with the beef industry to ensure consumers that the beef food supply is safe. It was recommended that similar research be conducted during or immediately after a national food safety incident, and research could be conducted on a different population.