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Abstract

To better understand how information about potential health hazards influences food demand, this case study examines consumers’ responses to newspaper articles on avian influenza, informally referred to as bird flu. The focus here is on the response to bird flu information in Italy as news about highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza (HPAI H5N1) unfolded in the period October 2004 through October 2006, beginning after reports of the first outbreaks in Southeast Asia and extending beyond the point at which outbreaks were reported in Western Europe. Estimated poultry demand, as influenced by the volume of newspaper reports on bird flu, reveals the magnitude and duration of newspaper articles’ impacts on consumers’ food choices. Larger numbers of bird flu news reports led to larger reductions in poultry purchases. Most impacts were of limited duration, and all began to diminish within 5 weeks.

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