Food Safety: A Communicator’s Guide to Improving Understanding


Safe food for all people is a universal goal, and while food producers, processors, manufacturers, distributors, retailers, regulators, and consumers around the globe strive to keep food safe, not all food is safe all of the time. For food safety communicators who are tasked with explaining why this is and when and how it affects consumers, the International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC) Foundation provides this resource, Food Safety: A Communicator’s Guide to Improving Understanding (Guide).

This Guide shows effective planning and execution of food safety risk communication through a practical, hands-on approach for communicators. Effective risk communication depends greatly on audience characteristics, as well as local and national cultural contexts in which the communication occurs. To that end, the Guide provides tools and templates for risk communication in unique environments, and discussion about specific food safety situations.

Food safety is not a competitive factor; it is a goal that unites us all. We hope this Guide is a useful resource as you implement food safety risk communication best practices so that, globally, we build better capacity for better coordination and greater trust in the food supply.

While many of the examples provided in the Guide are U.S. examples, they serve as a roadmap of what types of information should be communicated to the public. We encourage communicators and government officials from around the world using this Guide to customize the templates and materials based on local, regional, and national needs.

The guide includes chapters on Defining Food Safety; Building a Practical Framework for Successful Food Safety Risk Communication; Food Safety Risk Communication Fact Sheets (including microbial contamination, mycotoxins, norovirus, heavy metals, food defense, and food safety on the farm); Guidelines for Interacting with News Media; and Regulating & Communicating Food Safety on Global and Local Levels.

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ONLINE COPIES: To access the online version of the Guide and additional resources, visit

ADDITIONAL LANGUAGES: Food Safety: A Communicator’s Guide to Improving Understanding is available in additional languages. The Guide is now available in Mandarin Chinese.


This Guide was prepared under a partnership agreement between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) and the IFIC Foundation to provide guidance on effective food safety communication. This partnership agreement does not constitute an endorsement of any products or organizations that support IFIC or the IFIC Foundation.