E. coli, cattle producers, information sources, source credibility, preharvest control strategies


Escherichia Coli (E. Coli) contamination has been a long-existing concern for those engaged in cattle production, often causing negative public health and economic consequences. The existence of pre-harvest practices that help reduce E. coli contamination creates the opportunity to positively impact human health by focusing on modifying behaviors and management strategies carried out in cattle production. For efforts like this to be successful, it is vital to consider how the communication can be modified to best transfer information and persuade the audience. Persuasive communication is considered to have five broad attributes, including source, message, channel, receiver and target variables (McGuire, 1984). The source variable, specifically the idea of source credibility, has long been deemed an important attribute for sources of information and been the focus of persuasive communication research (Pornpitakpan, 2004; Perloff, 2010). This study used an online survey questionnaire delivered to a convenience sample of cattle producers to study information source preferences of cattle producers and the perceived source credibility of these information sources for receiving information related to E. coli pre-harvest controls strategies. Based on 112 completed questionnaires, the study found that these cattle producers were most likely to use veterinarians as a source of information and least likely to use government sources. Also, veterinarians were seen to be the most credible source for information and government sources were most likely to be seen as the least credible. The findings are important for making decisions on how to present messages in communication and education programs for cattle producers.

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