The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has submitted a proposed information collection to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to conduct an experimental study designed to evaluate the public’s risk perceptions after a foodborne-illness-related recall. Produce growers, food retailers and consumers will be asked to participate in the study “to help FDA better understand whether the magnitude and duration of the decline in commodity consumption following food recalls can be partly explained by grower and retailer speculations and projections about consumers’ attitudes.”
Using a hypothetical fresh spinach recall, the study will test whether “‘attribution error’—the tendency people have of overestimating others’ negative response to situations compared to their own response”—contributes to unnecessarily prolonging the economic effects of a food recall. The study will involve 900 participants (180 growers, 180 retailers and 540 consumers) assigned to either an ‘‘anger’’ scenario, ‘‘fear’’ scenario or ‘‘control’’ scenario. After reading a news article about the recall, participants will complete a questionnaire assessing their “emotional response; appraisals, attribution of responsibility; perceptions about the safety of the affected produce; intentions to grow, sell or buy the affected produce; perceived probability of a repeat event; and a measure of their innate ability to effectively respond to the information in the article.” Comments are requested by November 10, 2011. See Federal Register, October 11, 2011.