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From: The eUpdate, 4.26.2011

Customer Communication, Simplified

Web-based center offers resources for keeping the public informed about food safety

Wondering how to talk about food risk with your customers? Now all the resources that provide guidance on how to do just that can be found on a new website. In March, a group of leading international partners launched a web-based resource called the International Center of Excellence in Food Risk Communications.

A collaborative, international initiative involving global food and health organizations, government agencies, academic institutions, and nonprofit communication experts, the center is designed to be a portal that will serve everyone from government officials and health professionals to food producers and the public. It includes up-to-date information, research, and best practices on food safety, nutrition, and health. The goal is both to aid professionals in communicating effectively about food risks, and to help consumers understand what they’re hearing when there are headlines about a new product recall.

“We found that there had not previously been one central location that pulled together best practices regarding food risk from key stakeholders around the world,” said Kimberly Reed, executive director of the International Food Information Council Foundation.

The site, which remains a work in progress, will have sections for food and health professionals, as well as for consumers. For example, the current professional section features a “risk communications tools” area that includes learning modules on topics such as the psychological factors that influence how people respond to risk information and risk communicator training for food defense preparedness, response, and recovery. The consumer section brings together resources on such topics as chemicals found in food, how to understand risk, and guidelines like “five keys to safer food.”

“Over the course of the next year, we expect the site to grow enormously as we also bring in additional partners,” Reed said. “The situation in Japan now really underscores how important it is to have a resource available to people who care about communicating effectively about food safety.”

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