Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Finding Common Ground Between Seafood Messages

On the final morning of the conference, the group reconvened to review the outcomes from yesterday's working groups. Over the course of several hours, the participants dissected each of the proposed risk and benefit messages, parsing out different messages for different audiences. Several commonalities emerged from each group-

Consumption benefits:
  • Low calorie, nutrient rich, lean protein, heart health omega-3s
  • Supports cognitive development
  • Supports local fishermen
Consumption risks:
  • Threats to seafood supply
  • Contaminants (i.e. mercury, PCBs, etc) may have adverse health effects (neurological, development, cancer, etc)
  • Potential pathogens, foodborne illnesses, allergens
Under the overarching banner of "eat more seafood," the attendees addressed issues ranging from audience to communication strategies. The varied perspectives and viewpoints represented in the room alone reflect the incredibly complex, dynamic nature of seafood as a food source.

Ultimately, there is no single seafood consumption message that applies to an universal audience. Rather, a mixture of audiences (children vs adult vs elderly, etc), concerns (environmental, health benefits, health risks) and authorities (EPA, FDA, USDA, advocacy groups, etc) that must be considered. Moving forward, all of the participants agreed that consumers should learn more about the fish they eat to promote a better, more holistic understanding of this important dietary component.

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