Examining the risk communication of the government: case studies of Melamine-tainted milk event and Arsenic-tainted frying oil event.
|關鍵字:||風險溝通;風險感知;三聚氰胺汙染奶粉;毒奶粉;砷油;Risk Communication;Risk Perception;Melamine-tainted Milk;Arsenic-tainted Frying Oil||公開日期:||2010||摘要:||我國從2004年起開始爆發多次重大的中國食品安全問題，尤其是2008年的三聚氰胺汙染奶粉（毒奶粉）事件，掀起前所未見的食品安全恐慌，並引發社會對於三聚氰胺檢測標準值的高度爭議；隔年，2009年連鎖速食店油炸油發現含砷的砷油事件，又見食品安全問題。但事實上，不論是三聚氰胺或是炸油中的砷，均非高毒性的有害物質，卻引起社會上強烈的食品安全恐慌，顯然政府透過媒體進行食品安全風險溝通時，有所疏失，導致社會誤解。
Since 2004, there has broken out many major events of China food safety in Taiwan. In particular, the melamine-tainted milk event occurring in 2008 caused an unprecedented panic about food safety and provoked severe controversy over the standard value of melamine. The next year, in 2009, the arsenic-tainted frying oil event of chain fast food restaurants once again drew attention to the problem of food safety. However, in fact, neither melamine nor arsenic found in frying oil was harmful substances of high toxicity, but they triggered strong panic about food safety in society. Apparently, some mistakes and neglect occurred when the government communicated risks of food safety with people, resulting in the prevailing misunderstanding in society. After interviewing with food safety scientists, consumer groups and officials at the Department of Health, I found that in the beginning when the two events happened, the media overly emphasized the risks of food safety in the reports which in advance formed a high toxicity stereotype among the public. In addition, the Department of Health did not publicly and in detailed disclose all the assessments when stipulating the standards of food safety. Hence, the public constantly doubted if the Department of Health was subjected to the pressure from businessmen. Furthermore, for a long time Taiwanese people have distrusted the government. Therefore, it is more difficult for the government to communicate with people about the risks of food safety. Consumers have increasingly paid attention to consumption safety. They gradually put emphasis on the issue of long-term health damage by having contaminated food. In addition, the convenient access to Internet helps people expand the channels of self-learning and improve their abilities. The demand of society for the transparency of information also increases. However, the government still selectively provides information in a concealing and one-way manner, which fails to satisfy the needs of the public to see the complete information and independently judge the degree of risks. In the future, the government should upgrade people’s concept of toxic substances by the events of food safety. In terms of the policy thinking, the government should also pay attention to striking a balance between “the tolerability of risk” and actual “risk assessment”. Moreover, the government should provide information more openly, state the policies more clearly, exchange opinions more seriously, and making strategic decisions more responsibly to restore the trust and support of people.
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