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Risk, anti-reflexivity, and ethical neutralization in industrial food processing

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  • Diana Stuart

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  • Michelle Worosz

Abstract

While innovations have fostered the mass production of food at low costs, there are externalities or side effects associated with high-volume food processing. We focus on foodborne illness linked to two commodities: ground beef and bagged salad greens. In our analysis, we draw from the concepts of risk, reflexive modernization, and techniques of ethical neutralization. For each commodity, we find that systems organized for industrial goals overlook how production models foster cross-contamination and widespread outbreaks. Responses to outbreaks tend to rely on technological fixes, which do not constitute the reflexive change needed to holistically and effectively address foodborne illness in the long term. We contend that powerful anti-reflexivity movements resist calls for reform and successfully maintain industrial goals and organization. Actions that thwart changes in agrifood systems to better protect consumers are unethical, yet they continue to be successful. We argue that specific techniques of ethical neutralization play an important part in their success. Research on anti-reflexivity and techniques of neutralization will serve to further expose the ethical issues associated with the industrial agrifood system and foster new guiding principles and organizational designs for food production. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Diana Stuart & Michelle Worosz, 2012. "Risk, anti-reflexivity, and ethical neutralization in industrial food processing," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 29(3), pages 287-301, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:agrhuv:v:29:y:2012:i:3:p:287-301
    DOI: 10.1007/s10460-011-9337-7
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David A. Hennessy, 2005. "Slaughterhouse Rules: Animal Uniformity and Regulating for Food Safety in Meat Packing," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 87(3), pages 600-609.
    2. Laura DeLind & Philip Howard, 2008. "Safe at any scale? Food scares, food regulation, and scaled alternatives," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 25(3), pages 301-317, September.
    3. James M. MacDonald & Michael E. Ollinger & Kenneth E. Nelson & Charles R. Handy, 1996. "Structural Change in Meat Industries: Implications for Food Safety Regulation," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 78(3), pages 780-785.
    4. Ollinger, Michael & Nguyen, Sang V. & Blayney, Donald P. & Chambers, William & Nelson, Kenneth B., 2005. "Structural Change in the Meat, Poultry, Dairy and Grain Processing Industries," Economic Research Report 7217, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    5. Libecap, Gary D, 1992. "The Rise of the Chicago Packers and the Origins of Meat Inspection and Antitrust," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 30(2), pages 242-262, April.
    6. Diana Stuart, 2008. "The illusion of control: industrialized agriculture, nature, and food safety," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 25(2), pages 177-181, June.
    7. Stewart Lockie, 2006. "Capturing the Sustainability Agenda: Organic Foods and Media Discourses on Food Scares, Environment, Genetic Engineering, and Health," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 23(3), pages 313-323, October.
    8. Jason Konefal & Michael Mascarenhas & Maki Hatanaka, 2005. "Governance in the Global Agro-food System: Backlighting the Role of Transnational Supermarket Chains," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 22(3), pages 291-302, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jones, Kevin Edson & Davidson, Debra J., 2014. "Adapting to food safety crises: Interpreting success and failure in the Canadian response to BSE," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(P1), pages 250-258.
    2. repec:spr:agrhuv:v:34:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10460-017-9772-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:eee:agisys:v:157:y:2017:i:c:p:330-339 is not listed on IDEAS

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