In August 2005, avian influenza entered European public arenas as the next food and agricultural risk. As the virus was detected close to Europe, questions arose whether measures were required to protect human health and secure European food supply. This article analyzes the public debates on the characteristics of the risk and on the interventions needed. The mass media in two EU member states, the UK and the Netherlands, were studied for this purpose. With the help of qualitative analysis the debates were analyzed as they unfolded in selected national newspapers. Arguing that risks are socially mediated realities, the article discusses how struggles on risk definitions relate to different policy decisions. Moreover, it analyzes how these political dynamics are informed by the involvement of state, market, and civil society actors in European governance, and discerns their wider implications for the functioning of the EU food governance framework.