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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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