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Examining the 2006 Spinach and E. coli Crisis

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dole-spinach-bag.jpgCSREES’ National Program Leader for Food Safety, Jan Singleton, recently hosted a seminar entitled: Examining the 2006 Spinach and E. coli Crisis. This seminar was performed by Dr. William Hallman, as well as other Rutgers University officials, and dealt with media coverage and public perceptions of this event. This (and other) research was made possible through a $2 million grant awarded by the CSREES National Integrated Food Safety Initiative (NIFSI), which is overseen by Dr. Singleton. Specifically, it looked at the following (and other) questions: 

1)   Which media outlets covered the spinach advisory?

2)   Did broadcast networks cover the story as a part of their morning and/or evening news?

3)   What details did broadcast and print media outlets include?

4)   What important details did broadcast and print media outlets omit?

5)   Did consumers take the correct messages away from the media coverage?

6)   What actions were ultimately taken by consumers as a result of these messages?
Surveys conducted as a part of this research found that most Americans were aware of the advisory that some spinach was unsafe to eat. Media analyses show that this story was covered extensively in both print and television. However, substantial challenges to government and media remain. Often times the public took the wrong actions as a result of media messages, the majority of broadcast television news stories did not provide any guidelines on prudent consumer action, and many consumers stopped eating unaffected produce.

The presentation slides that Dr. Hallman and his colleagues used are

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