Human Ecology

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 87–108

Pollution, food safety, and the distribution of knowledge

  • Jeffrey C. Johnson
  • David C. Griffith

DOI: 10.1007/BF02167962

Cite this article as:
Johnson, J.C. & Griffith, D.C. Hum Ecol (1996) 24: 87. doi:10.1007/BF02167962


Human perceptions of the relationship between pollution and food safety are often haphazard and contradictory, based on a variety of sources of information. Recent media events concerning seafood and coastal pollution have generated concern that an otherwise healthy food— fish and shellfish—has become dangerous. We assess consumer knowledge about seafood safety and coastal pollution using several methods, including tests of cultural consensus. We find that consumers view seafood as far more threatened by pollution than scientific analysis suggests, due in part to their perceptions about the dynamics of the marine environment. Finding variation in perceptions within our population based on income and other factors, we explore the use of the cultural consensus approach in large and heterogeneous populations.

Key words

intracultural variationconsensus analysispollutionrisk

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffrey C. Johnson
    • 1
  • David C. Griffith
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Sociology, Institute for Coastal and Marine ResourcesEast Carolina UniversityGreenville
  2. 2.Department of Anthropology, Institute for Coastal and Marine ResourcesEast Carolina UniversityGreenville