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ISSN: 2157-2526

Journal of Bioterrorism & Biodefense
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Research Article

“Americans’ Potential Responses to Deliberate Food Contamination: A Risk Perception and Communication Study”

Benjamin Onyango1*, Neal Hooker2, William Hallman3 and Ibrahim Mohammed4

1213 Karls Hall, William H. Darr School of Agriculture,Missouri State University, 901 South National Avenue,Springfield, MO 65897

2Department of Food Marketing, Saint Joseph’s University, Food Policy Institute, Rutgers University

3Department of Human Ecology, and Director, Food Policy, Rutgers University

4Fort Valley State University, Georgia

*Corresponding Author:
Benjamin Onyango
Assistant Professor, 213 Karls Hall
William H. Darr School of Agriculture,Missouri State University
901 South National Avenue,Springfield, MO 65897
Tel: 417-836-4262
Fax: 417-836-6979
E-mail: [email protected]

Received Date: June 17, 2011; Accepted Date: October 25, 2011; Published Date: November 12, 2011

Citation: Onyango B, Hooker N, Hallman W, Mohammed I (2011) “Americans’ Potential Responses to Deliberate Food Contamination: A Risk Perception and Communication Study”. J Bioterr Biodef S5:001. doi:10.4172/2157-2526.S5-001

Copyright: © 2011 Onyango B, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


This study examines public perceptions of, and likely reactions to, an act of bioterrorism targeting the US food supply. Results from factor analysis of survey data suggest a range of responses including; public panic, raised fears or emotions, a controlled response or a an acceptance that such an event is inevitable. Reactions are reflective of peoples’ cognitive interpretations or affective responses to the risks posed. Cluster analysis and regression results suggest that authorities may successfully position risk communication messages based on the condition that people believe the government and private institutions can function in the face of a food attack. This finding underscores the pivotal role played by trust and confidence in institutions in restoring calm after a bioterrorist event. Fine tuning of communications for different population groups may be necessary if certain Americans’ perceive the risk of a bioterrorist event in a less rational manner.


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