Social media is a tool for food safety folks

The Internet is rife with examples of how to employ social media for food safety purposes. Good and bad. Folks that use Twitter or Facebook as a place to push messages out (like an old-fashioned brochure) haven’t quite figured it out. Others, who have, use new media forms to connect with, engage and pull back the curtain on their aspect of the food world.


For the past couple of years many of my talks have had a social media component to them. Folks want to know what’s going on but aren’t exactly sure how jump in. By going into the literature around social media communications combined with experience following online discussions of food, Doug, MS student Ben Raymond and I pulled together a framework for using social media as a tool for food safety. And published it in a special edition of Perspectives in Public Health.

Our conclusions for why social media is a useful tool for food safety types include:

– Provides access to real people, their discussions and feedback
– Allows communicators to go where people are and contribute
– Creates communities
– Can be used to provide decision-making evidence transparently
The abstract is below and the full paper can be found here.
Potential of social media as a tool to combat foodborne illness
Perspectives in Public Health
vol. 134 no. 4 225-230
Benjamin Chapman, Benjamin Raymond, Douglas Powell
The use of social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, has been increasing substantially in recent years and has affected the way that people access information online. Social media rely on high levels of interaction and user-generated context shared through established and evolving social networks. Health information providers must know how to successfully participate through social media in order to meet the needs of these online audiences. This article reviews the current research on the use of social media for public health communication and suggests potential frameworks for developing social media strategies. The extension to food safety risk communication is explored, considering the potential of social media as a tool to combat foodborne illness.


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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.