Assessing Consumer Awareness About Mercury in Fish

The study discussed in this article was conducted to determine if a retail-based educational campaign would be an effective tool to inform consumers about mercury in fish. In 2005, the Rhode Island (RI) Department of Health, in conjunction with the RI Food Dealers Association, conducted surveys in eight supermarkets to assess consumers’ knowledge and awareness of mercury in fish. A presurvey was administered to 523 respondents as they prepared to exit the store June 17–19. During the week of July 11–17, a “Fish Week” educational program was conducted. An identical postsurvey to evaluate the effectiveness of “Fish Week” was administered to 556 customers exiting participating supermarkets on July 21–24. A significant (p < .05) increase occurred in the number of respondents who identified brochures as an information source about mercury in fish. Small, but significant, decreases in awareness and knowledge about mercury in fish issues, however, were unexpected findings that were likely due to factors discussed.

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