Mercury advisories: Information, education, and fish consumption
This paper examines responses to a national FDA advisory that urged at-risk individuals to limit store-bought fish consumption due to the dangers of methyl-mercury. We investigate consumer response using both parametric and nonparametric methods. Some targeted consumers significantly reduced canned fish purchases as a result of the advisory, suggesting that information-based policies can achieve the issuing agency’s goals. Education and newspaper readership were important determinants of response, suggesting that information acquisition and assimilation are key factors for risk avoidance. While some groups reduced consumption as a result of the advisory, we do not find a response among the relatively large group of at-risk households which met neither the education nor readership criteria. The advisory also had unintended spillover effects; some consumers not considered at-risk reduced consumption in response to the advisory.
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