Objective: We examined readability literacy levels for the crisis communication, food-related warnings and recalls, distributed by the FDA and USDA.
Methods: Readability measures were calculated for the food-related press releases disseminated on the agencies’ Web sites for the six month period of January through June 2008.
Results: The food-related warnings and recalls were written at reading levels above nearly half of the U.S. population.
Conclusions: The high readability levels of the FDA and USDA written alerts about foodborne illnesses and outbreaks negatively influence message effectiveness. Although time constraints inherently affect crisis communication, readability measures can and should be remembered and used.