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Keywords:

  • Campylobacter;
  • consumer behavior;
  • food microbiology;
  • risk assessment;
  • risk communication

The improvement of food safety in the domestic environment requires a transdisciplinary approach, involving interaction between both the social and natural sciences. This approach is applied in a study on risks associated with Campylobacter on broiler meat. First, some web-based information interventions were designed and tested on participant motivation and intentions to cook more safely. Based on these self-reported measures, the intervention supported by the emotion “disgust” was selected as the most promising information intervention. Its effect on microbial cross-contamination was tested by recruiting a set of participants who prepared a salad with chicken breast fillet carrying a known amount of tracer bacteria. The amount of tracer that could be recovered from the salad revealed the transfer and survival of Campylobacter and was used as a measure of hygiene. This was introduced into an existing risk model on Campylobacter in the Netherlands to assess the effect of the information intervention both at the level of exposure and the level of human disease risk. We showed that the information intervention supported by the emotion “disgust” alone had no measurable effect on the health risk. However, when a behavioral cue was embedded within the instruction for the salad preparation, the risk decreased sharply. It is shown that a transdisciplinary approach, involving research on risk perception, microbiology, and risk assessment, is successful in evaluating the efficacy of an information intervention in terms of human health risks. The approach offers a novel tool for science-based risk management in the area of food safety.