More than 400 food safety and communications leaders from academia, regulatory agencies, consumer advocacy groups and the food industry joined the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) last week at the third annual virtual Food Safety Forum. Held in partnership with an array of organizations, the Food Safety Forum facilitated a dialogue about effective risk communication. 

AFFI called on public health agencies to adhere to their commitment to transparent and accurate reporting consistent with effective risk communication principles. AFFI stressed that the need for accurate and clear communication is more important than ever and that agencies must acknowledge that acceptable food safety risk exists in their public communication efforts, as consumer distrust of food safety institutions grows. 

The three-hour forum included multiple expert speakers and panels that provided attendees with an in-depth understanding of how consumers perceive food safety risks and how best practices should be used to craft risk-based communications that inform the public and support public health. Speakers shared their unique perspectives and guidance on topics such as how regulatory agencies can integrate legal review and input, how to distill complex matters in a media-driven environment, and how the regulated community and industry can both support a better consumer understanding of food safety risks. 

“With both an increasingly complex global food supply chain and a real-time digital information system that can reach consumers at any moment, it is essential for the public to have trust in the food safety system and understand the actual – rather than perceived – risks,” said Dr. Donna Garren, AFFI’s executive vice president of Science and Policy. “The goal of this Food Safety Forum is to bring the community of food safety stakeholders together to better understand effective risk messaging and support regulatory bodies in accurately communicating public health risks.”

The event was held with an unprecedented group of partners, including:

  • Association of Food and Drug Officials
  • Consumer Reports
  • FMI – The Food Industry Association
  • International Dairy Foods Association
  • International Food Protection Training Institute
  • International Fresh Produce Association
  • National Association of State Departments of Agriculture
  • Stop Foodborne Illness

“The range of stakeholder partners who participated in this year’s Food Safety Forum reflects the wide-ranging commitment to public health and consumer education,” Garren said. “AFFI is hopeful that the ideas and dialogue fostered at this year’s event generate additional messaging to the public that supports a scientific, risk-based understanding of food safety and generates trust in our food system.”

About AFFIThe American Frozen Food Institute is the member-driven national trade association representing all segments of the frozen food supply chain from manufacturers to suppliers and distributors. AFFI advocates before legislative and regulatory entities on the industry’s behalf, serves as the voice for the industry and convenes industry leadership to create an environment where frozen foods are essential in a dynamic marketplace.