Abstract In this paper we consider the findings of a number of interlinked pieces of research, both qualitative and quantitative, that have investigated aspects of food risk communication on the island of Ireland. These findings are set in the context of international risk communication research. The findings are examined using the three basic elements of a simple communications framework: the message sender; the channel through which the message is communicated and the receiver of the message. The barriers to effective communication are examined and special reference is made to the barriers affecting the communication of domestic food safety risk. Barriers identified include personal, infrastructural and message related factors, such as lack of interest, lack of appropriate facilities and conflicting messages. Based on an evaluation of the views of the scientific community and the public, we make suggestions on how future food safety communications could be tackled to better address the identified barriers. Both suggested long and short term policies are considered in the context of a heterogeneous public and scientific community. Short term suggestions provide an opportunity to address the challenges faced by those who are currently exposing themselves to a high level of domestic food safety risk. The long term suggestions reflect on the underlying barriers impacting on public domestic food safety practices.