Department Risk Communication
Consumer health protection involves research into, assessment and communication of risks. In this context it is not just the risks themselves that are important but also their communication in the media and how they are perceived. Scientific findings must be transparent and put across in a comprehensible manner in order to promote the rational handling of risks.
BfR has the statutory remit for risk communication and informs the public at large about possible health risks and the research findings on which they are based in the fields of food, chemical and product safety. To this end BfR enters into an active dialogue with various stakeholders from science, trade and industry, political circles, the media, associations, non-governmental organisations and consumers. Besides target-group orientated press and public relations, this communication process entails the active involvement of various interest groups in expert meetings, status seminars, consumer protection fora, stakeholder conferences and public symposia.
The interdisciplinary Risk Communication Department conducts research projects on risk perception, early risk detection and risk impact assessment for instance in the fields of new technologies like nanotechnology, changes in nutritional behaviour of consumers following risk communication or the ranking of risks by various social interest groups. The tools used here are representative surveys, consumer conferences, Delphi surveys and focus groups.
Another main area of the Department is the co-ordination and targeted, ongoing development of national and international networks of the political and scientific institutions responsible for consumer health protection.
The Risk Communication Department comprises six units: