The study of risk perception has been punctuated with controversy, conflict and paradigm shifts. Despite more than three decades of research, understanding of risk assessment remains fragmented and incoherent. Until recently, food and eating has been Viewed as a low-risk activity and perceived risk surrounded matters of hygiene or lack of food. Consequently, theories of risk have been constructed with reference to environmental and technological hazards, such as nuclear power, whilst neglecting food issues. However, following a decade of 'food scares', attention has moved towards the study of food risk. Within this, food risk research has focused almost exclusively upon attempting to explain the divergence of opinion that exists between experts and the lay public whilst neglecting to address it. The following discussion provides a brief historical overview of theories and approaches that have been applied to the study of risk perception, continues with a summary of findings derived from food risk research and concludes with a discussion of methodological issues and some projections for future research.