Frames, claims and audiences: Construction of food allergies in the Canadian media
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Food allergies are newly emerging health risks, and some evidence indicates that their prevalence is increasing. Public perception, however, is that the prevalence of food allergies is much greater than systematic estimates suggest. As food allergies increasingly permeate everyday life, this paper explores how associated risks are constructed through the mass media. In particular, nine years of media coverage of food allergies are analysed through the lens of issue framing and claims-making. Results show that advocates and affected individuals dominate discussions around policy action, while researchers and health professionals are diagnosing the causes of food allergy. Results also suggest that there is competition over the definition of food allergies, which may, in turn, be shaping public understanding of the related risks. There is also an indication that the framing of food allergies is evolving over time, and that the discussion is becoming increasingly one-sided with affected individuals leading the charge.
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