RELU-RISK: Managing Food Chain Risks


A key concept within risk management is uncertainty.  This needs to be handled both at a statistical level, within technical risk assessment and exposure models, but also understood within the two-way interaction with various stakeholders, as part of the risk management process.

What has been lacking in this research area in the past is the integration between the best available modelling of technical risk assessments with social science inputs on participation processes, consumer behaviour and effective risk communication. This project is based on three case studies representing different types of risk: chemical contamination, microbial contamination and a crisis scenario. At a technical level procedures will be used to model not only the risk to members of the public but also to develop measures of the uncertainties inherent in those estimates of risk, taking into account interactions throughout the food chain and also the likely impact of risk information on consumer behaviour.

The project will investigate the best ways of communicating risks both to members of the public and to risk managers.  These stakeholder groups will be involved throughout the research both to define the interfaces needed and to evaluate the outcomes from the project.

Project partners 


RELU-RISK Policy Note (ReluriskPolicy note pdf.pdf)


Shepherd, R., Barker, G., French, S., Hart, A., Maule, J. & Cassidy, A. (2006). Managing food chain risks: integrating technical and stakeholder perspectives on uncertainty. Journal of Agricultural Economics, 57, 311-327.

Shepherd, R. (2008). Involving the public and stakeholders in the evaluation of food risks. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 19, 234-239.

Barker, G. C., Bayley, C., Cassidy, A., French, S., Hart, A., Malakar, P. K., Maule, J., Petkov, M., & Shepherd, R. (2010). Can a participatory approach contribute to food chain risk analysis? Risk Analysis, 30, 766-781.

Conference Presentations

Barker, G. & Shepherd, R. (2006). Food safety management and its impact on the rural economy. Invited presentation at RELU Workshop 'Sustainable Food Chains and Rural and Regional Development', Birmingham, 11 May 2006.

Petkov, M. & Shepherd, R. (2006). How will personality affect the risks you take? – A closer look into food risks and consumer behaviour. Paper presented at RiskCom 'New Perspectives on Risk Communication: Uncertainty in a Complex Society', Gothenburg, 31 August - 2 September 2006.

Shepherd, R. (2006). Consumer risk perception and risk communication. Invited paper at Croatian Food Agency Seminar on Risk Assessment, Zagreb, 5 October 2006.