With Internet meals bringing convenience to consumers, the potential food safety problems pose new challenges to traditional supervision, which urgently needs attention. This paper systematically analyzes the impact and mechanism of Internet meals through consumption experience, and identifies the moderating role of regulatory bodies with different institutional natures. On the basis of theoretical analysis, this paper carries out an empirical analysis with survey data about 1018 consumers from 15 districts in Shanghai.
The results show that the market of Internet meals is a lemon market. There would be a higher probability of experiencing food safety incidents, if consumers prefer convenience or price. With the supervision from platform or media, the dilemma will be improved. That is to say, the probability of experiencing food safety incidents will decrease. Furthermore, the awareness of safety, and safeguarding rights and information channels will weaken the impact of consumer preference on the probability of experiencing food safety incidents. In order to promote food safety, it is suggested that we should pay attention to the supervisory role of the government, platforms, media, and the public, based on the concept of co-governance. The government should realize the transformation from traditional governance to multi-party coordinated governance, including government leading, social coordination and public participation.
This paper has two marginal contributions: First, based on the background of informatization and accelerated pace of life, it focuses on the topic of Internet meals, systematically analyzes the dilemma of lemon market for Internet meals, and discusses the role of different subjects in alleviating the dilemma, which is a good supplement to current research. Second, it analyzes the relationship between consumer decision and food safety from the perspective of consumers, which is different from the perspective of producers.
It is of great significance to carry out this research. On the one hand, as an emerging industry, it is still off the ground. It is essential to grasp the causes, characteristics and mitigation measures of the problem, which is helpful to the development of industry. On the other hand, Internet meals are popular in Shanghai, which provides an experimental plot. The policy or experience implemented in Shanghai can serve as a model reference and experience for the management of Internet meals in other regions.