Consumers’ food safety risk communication on social media following the Suan Tang Zi accident: an extended protection motivation theory perspective

Ying Zhu, Xiaowei Wen, May Chu, Gongliang Zhang, Xuefan Liu

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Abstract

There are many hidden safety hazards in homemade food due to an absence of food preparation and storage knowledge, and this has led to many food safety incidents. The purpose of this study was to explore the influencing factors of consumers’ food risk communication behavior on social media in northeast China, using the protection motivation theory. We integrate the Suan Tang Zi food poisoning accident and the protection motivation theory to develop a conceptual model to predict food safety risk communication on social media. We conducted a questionnaire which adapted measures from the existing Likert scales. A total of 789 respondents from northeast China participated in this study. We tested our hypotheses using a structural equation model. Results show that perceived severity, perceived vulnerability and self-efficacy have a significant influence on consumer protection motivation. Response efficacies have a positive impact on consumer protection motivation, but response barriers have a negative impact on consumer protection motivation. Additionally, information need and protection motivation of consumers have a significant impact on food safety risk communication on social media. Overall, the protection motivation theory accounted for 71% of the variance in food safety risk communication on social media. Practical implications and suggestions are proposed for the related stakeholders, as well as consumers, to encourage the public to participate in the food risk communication in this study. The research findings presented the social media as a kind of food risk communication channel contributes to consumers acquire accurate information on food quickly, in turn, reduce the probability of food poisoning in daily life. Protection motivation theory may provide some insights into how we can increase the rate of food safety risk communication on social media.
Original languageEnglish
Article number8080
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume18
Issue number15
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2021

Keywords

  • food risk communication
  • protection motivation theory
  • social media
  • SEM

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