I’ve had different versions of this paper running through my head for 25 years.
My father – the inspiration for the cooking show paper – has asked me a couple times over the years regarding the engineering/automotive sector, when they knew something was wrong; what should we do? But like so many other sectors, it gets brushed aside.
There’s money involved.
My local hockey club can’t figure out how to go public, so it’s no wonder that public health agencies can’t figure it out either.
Yet the job of public health, no matter how many political assholes, no matter how many impediments, and no matter how many dog bites you have to investigate, is to protect public health.
That doesn’t always (rarely) happen.
Anyone can search barfblog.com under the phrase “going public” and find hundreds of incidents of people acting like shits.
But this is important shit, because credibility depends on transparency and trust and truthiness (at least in my idyllic world-view).
Public health is under siege.
The science is there, the outbreaks are there. Go public.
Or at least explain the process so mere mortals can understand.
Going public: Early disclosure of food risks for the benefit of public health
NEHA, Volume 79.7, Pages 8-14
Benjamin Chapman, Maria Sol Erdozaim, Douglas Powell
Often during an outbreak of foodborne illness, there are health officials who have data indicating that there is a risk prior to notifying the public. During the lag period between the first public health signal and some release of public information, there are decision makers who are weighing evidence with the impacts of going public.
Multiple agencies and analysts have lamented that there is not a common playbook or decision tree for how public health agencies determine what information to release and when. Regularly, health authorities suggest that how and when public information is released is evaluated on a case-by-case basis without sharing the steps and criteria used to make decisions. Information provision on its own is not enough.
Risk communication, to be effective and grounded in behavior theory, should provide control measure options for risk management decisions. There is no indication in the literature that consumers benefit from paternalistic protection decisions to guard against information overload. A review of the risk communication literature related to outbreaks, as well as case studies of actual incidents, are explored and a blueprint for health authorities to follow is provided.