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The 'Malbouffe' Saga


  • Alain Rérat


summary After the end of the Second World War, a marked increase in animal and plant production was observed in France, little by little considered by consumers to be obtained at the expense of product quality. The pejorative term 'malbouffe' soon emerged, in connection not only with the hygiene of food, but also with its organoleptic and technological characteristics. This article focuses on food safety in France, with special attention paid to the incidence of toxi-infections and food contaminations of biological and chemical origin. The Mad Cow outbreak is reviewed, along with its consequences for human health in the form of new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob's disease. It is emphasized that food-related human mortality - almost exclusively due to biological contaminations - represented only 647 cases in 1995, i.e., 0.12 per cent of the overall mortality rate. The main contaminants were Salmonella, whose number is steadily decreasing, and Campylobacter, but parasite and phycotoxic risks are increasing. Mortality due to chemical contaminants is very low i.e., 10 cases or 0.002 per cent of overall mortality These contaminants, either accidental (dioxin, hydrocarbons, radioactive isotopes) or unavoidable (residues from phytochemicals, fertilisers) may be at the source of acute or chronic intoxications with sometimes unknown consequences. Nevertheless, food safety in France does not merit the spiteful term 'malbouffe'. Copyright The Agricultural Ecomomics Society and the European Association of Agricultural Economists 2007.

Suggested Citation

  • Alain Rérat, 2007. "The 'Malbouffe' Saga," EuroChoices, The Agricultural Economics Society, vol. 6(1), pages 7-13, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:eurcho:v:6:y:2007:i:1:p:7-13

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Muhammad, Andrew & Seale, James L. & Meade, Birgit Gisela Saager & Regmi, Anita, 2011. "International Evidence on Food Consumption Patterns: An Update Using 2005 International Comparison Program Data," Technical Bulletins 184306, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    2. Silvia Coderoni & Laura Valli & Maurizio Canavari, 2015. "Climate Change Mitigation Options in the Italian Livestock Sector," EuroChoices, The Agricultural Economics Society, vol. 14(1), pages 17-24, April.
    3. Rafael Oliveira Silva & Luis Gustavo Barioni & Dominic Moran, 2015. "Greenhouse Gas Mitigation through Sustainable Intensification of Livestock Production in the Brazilian Cerrado," EuroChoices, The Agricultural Economics Society, vol. 14(1), pages 28-34, April.
    4. Hugo Valin & Ronald D. Sands & Dominique van der Mensbrugghe & Gerald C. Nelson & Helal Ahammad & Elodie Blanc & Benjamin Bodirsky & Shinichiro Fujimori & Tomoko Hasegawa & Petr Havlik & Edwina Heyhoe, 2014. "The future of food demand: understanding differences in global economic models," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 45(1), pages 51-67, January.
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