[EDITORIALS]Educating the public on food

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[EDITORIALS]Educating the public on food

Recently, the third largest chicken producer went bankrupt. Word is that the steep drop in chicken consumption sparked by the bird flu that has been spreading in East Asia was the main reason the company went out of business.
Another view is that if this trend continues it won’t be long before the No. 1 and 2 companies in the industry have to close down as well. Already, many small franchise stores that have served as the backbone of chicken consumption have shut their doors and the very existence of the infrastructure of the industry is on the verge of collapse.
Last year, Korea was the first country in which avian influenza broke out, but a swift response prevented the disease from claiming any lives. Nevertheless, poultry consumption has been decreasing at a much faster rate than in other countries.
Our government can hardly escape the blame that it solely focused on preventing an epidemic and didn’t pay any attention to consumption patterns and to the related industries. If poultry has been sufficiently cooked, there is no danger to the consumer. Nevertheless, the fact that half the people surveyed said that they felt uneasy about eating poultry shows that the government didn’t do a proper job of educating the public.
Although somewhat late, a campaign launched by the government to promote the consumption of poultry started last week. It is a relief to note that the rate of decline in chicken consumption has started to slow down.
Taking a cue from this situation, our government should devise a fundamental plan to deal with incorrect perceptions by consumers regarding food items.
Every year around June, people in the fishing industry are plagued by similar consumer behavior sparked by certain diseases found in fish, while the farming industry is exposed as well when diseases such as mad cow appear.
Our government not only needs to strengthen its screening of the food industry in the production and distribution process in order to ensure hygiene, but it also needs to do a better job of providing scientific proof so that consumers won’t fall into the trap of behaving irrationally when there is no need for them to do so.
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