Print news coverage of the 2010 Iowa egg recall: Addressing bad eggs and poor oversight

Linnea I. Laestadius, Lisa P. Lagasse, Katherine Clegg Smith, Roni A. Neff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper examines the print news coverage of the 2010 Iowa egg recall, the largest in the United States, in order to determine how the news media conveyed messages regarding the recall and its causes, as well as what consumers might do in response to the recall. The news media has long been both a primary source of consumer information relating to food safety and a notable contributor to the policy agenda. A content analysis of 160 articles from four national US newspapers, the largest regional paper in Iowa, and the Associated Press revealed that the recall was framed both as a failure of government oversight and as an instance of poor production practices by the farmers in question. Proposed responses to the recall similarly fell into two distinct categories: changing consumer purchasing and food preparation habits in order to minimize the immediate risk of infection, and supporting legislative and regulatory food safety reforms that would minimize the risk of future outbreaks. Particular media focus was given to both the US Food Safety Modernization Act and the FDA Egg Rule. Relatively little media attention was given to industrial agriculture as a causal frame or the purchasing of " alternative" eggs as a potential response. Overall, coverage conveyed the policy relevance of the recall but failed both to fully contextualize the outbreak within the history of previous outbreaks and food safety concerns and to convey the relationship of the outbreak to the current system of industrial agriculture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)751-759
Number of pages9
JournalFood Policy
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Eggs
  • Food recalls
  • Food safety
  • Media analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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