Who regulates food? Australians' perceptions of responsibility for food safety

Julie Henderson, John Coveney, Paul Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Food scares have diminished trust in public institutions to guarantee food safety. Food governance after the food scare era is concerned with institutional independence and transparency leading to a hybrid of public and private sector management and to mechanisms for consumer involvement in food governance. This paper explores Australian consumers' perceptions of who is, and should be responsible for food safety. Forty-seven participants were interviewed as part of a larger study on trust in the food system. Participants associate food governance with government, industry, and the individual. While few participants can name the national food regulator, there is a strong belief that the government is responsible for regulating the quality and safety of food. Participants are wary of the role of the food industry in food safety, believing that profit motives will undermine effective food regulation. Personal responsibility for food safety practices was also identified. While there are fewer mechanisms for consumer involvement and transparency built into the food governance system, Australian consumers display considerable trust in government to protect food safety. There is little evidence of the politicisation of food, reflecting a level of trust in the Australian food governance system that may arise from a lack of exposure to major food scares.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-351
Number of pages8
JournalAustralian Journal of Primary Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


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