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The paradox of E-numbers: ethical, aesthetic, and cultural concerns in the Dutch discourse on food additives

By D. Haen

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Abstract

Persistent public distrust of food additives is often explained in terms of safety and health issues. The broad variety of ethical, aesthetic, and cultural concerns tends to be structurally ignored by food engineers and occasionally even by consumers themselves. The public controversy of food additives - commonly known as "E-numbers" - in the Netherlands is a case in point. Two discursive mechanisms prevent these concerns from becoming legitimate public issues: irrationalization and privatization. But these consumer concerns may not be as unreasonable as they seem, and they may even turn out to be not that private. As long as ethical, aesthetic and cultural concerns are not recognized by food engineers as legitimate issues, the controversy of food additives is not likely to find closure. Moreover, this lack of recognition blocks the opportunity for meaningful dialogue and trust building between food technology developers, policy makers, citizens and consumers.

Publication Title Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics
Volume 27
Issue 1
Pages 27-42
ISBN/ISSN 0893-4282
DOI 10.1007/s10806-013-9440-4
Language English
Author Address Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Maastricht University, PO Box 616, 6200 MD, Maastricht, Netherlands.d.haen@maastrichtuniversity.nl
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Tags
  1. Additives
  2. Consumers
  3. Culture
  4. Developed countries
  5. Ethics
  6. Europe
  7. Foods
  8. Netherlands
  9. OECD countries
  10. peer-reviewed
  11. privatization
  12. Public opinion
Badges
  1. peer-reviewed