Trust in the Australian food supply: Innocent until proven guilty

Julie Henderson, Paul Ward, John Coveney, Samantha Meyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


International research demonstrates diminishing trust in the food supply associated with food scares which undermine trust in expert advice. Even though Australia has not experienced major food scares, there is evidence of diminishing trust in the food supply. Interviews were conducted with 47 South Australian food shoppers from high (n = 17) and low (n = 16) socio-economic regions of Adelaide and from rural South Australia (n = 14) about food governance and trust in the Australian food supply. Participants display a high level of trust in the food supply associated with a perception that Australian food is safe; a lack of exposure to food risks; and trust in personal food safety practices. The media was the only factor which created distrust in the food system. Other participants express confidence in the food supply where confidence is understood as a lack of reflection. Contrary to concepts of reflexive modernisation which presume an increasing awareness of risk and placement of trust as a means of reducing uncertainly, participants adopt an 'innocent until proven guilty' approach displaying little knowledge or interest in knowing about food regulation relying instead on routine food safety practices as a means of managing uncertainty.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-272
Number of pages16
JournalHealth, Risk and Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • food governance
  • food safety
  • reflexivity
  • risk
  • trust


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