Consumers' acceptance of an online tool with personalized health risk-benefit communication about seafood consumption

Food Chem Toxicol. 2020 Jul 14;111573. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2020.111573. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

The importance of seafood for a healthy diet is widely recognized but concerns are raised over the risks associated with contaminants, causing a communication dilemma concerning this nutritional-toxicological conflict. Although health benefits outweigh the risks for the general population, caution is needed for vulnerable groups. Increased use of the internet for health and nutrition information grants new opportunities for online tools with tailored information. The interactive FishChoice tool, developed within EU-funded ECsafeSEAFOOD project, informs consumers on the health benefits and risks linked to their seafood consumption pattern. This study assesses the acceptance of the FishChoice tool through an online survey in five European countries, namely Belgium, Norway, Spain, Portugal and Ireland (n=703). About two thirds of consumers agreed they would use the provided information when choosing seafood species, portion size or frequency of consumption. Heavy users of seafood had a higher intention to reuse the tool. This study provides preliminary evidence that for risk-benefit communication about seafood, online tailored tools such as FishChoice are evaluated as user-friendly and useful. Similar tools can be used in situations where no general recommendations can be made. Further research should determine the long term impact of these communication messages and tools on consumers' behavior.