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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2005 Jun 29;360(1458):1133-44.

The Croonian Lecture 2004 risk: food, fact and fantasy.

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  • 1Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, UK.


We all take risks, but most of the time we do not notice them. We are generally bad at judging the risks we take, and in the end, for some of us, this will prove fatal. Eating, like everything else in life, is not risk free. Is that next mouthful pure pleasure, or will it give you food poisoning? Will it clog your arteries as well as filling your stomach? This lecture weaves together three strands-the public understanding of science, the perception of risk and the role of science in informing government policy-as it explains how food risks are assessed and managed by government and explores the boundaries between the responsibilities of the individual and the regulator. In doing so, it draws upon the science of risk assessment as well as our attitudes to risk in relation to issues such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, dioxins in salmon and diet and obesity.

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