ACSPRI Conferences, RC33 Eighth International Conference on Social Science Methodology

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Food Research in Government – methodologies and challenges

Trevor Webb, Robyn Polisano

Building: Law Building
Room: Breakout 8 - Law Building, Room 100
Date: 2012-07-10 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Last modified: 2012-03-02


The food regulatory systems of the United Kingdom and Australia base their approaches to risk analysis on the WHO/FAO model that recognises risk assessment, risk management and risk communication. In contrast to the natural sciences which are primarily associated with the activities of risk assessment, the social sciences inform all three aspects of risk analysis. Social science for risk analysis seeks to improve regulatory decision-making by replacing assumptions and uncertainties about human behaviour, knowledge and understanding with empirically based knowledge. The social science undertaken in this context must be rigorous and withstand public scrutiny, while its location within government also influences its practise. Food regulatory agencies such as the UK Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Australia New Zealand have adopted new approaches in the practice and content of their social science, including broadening the populations who participate in the research, developing appropriate standards to assess research quality, and the way in which other stakeholders in the risk analysis processes are engaged in the research. Using recent examples from the UK and Australian food regulatory system the presentation will explore the practise of social science for food in government.