Communicating Ethical Traceability

  • Volkert Beekman
  • Christian Coff
  • Michiel Korthals
  • Liesbeth Schipper
Part of the The International Library of Environmental, Agricultural and Food Ethics book series (LEAF, volume 15)

In the first chapter ethical traceability was defined as ‘the ability to trace and map ethical aspects of the food chain by means of recorded identifications’. The first chapter also emphasized that access to information is a key issue for consumers who are concerned about food production processes. If such consumers are to make informed food choices on the basis of their ethical considerations, it will be necessary to make information on production histories available. This is exactly what can be done by implementing traceability. Ethical traceability therefore needs to entail a communicative endeavour which, in contrast to the legislation currently in force (see Chapter 2), includes the consumer. The current chapter addresses how ethical traceability should include strategies for ensuring appropriate information and communication with consumers.

Consumer concerns play a central role in this book’s discussions about ethical traceability. Chapter 2 has already indicated that one of the means of addressing these concerns is to be found in better communication about them. It is therefore important to acknowledge that regulatory, corporate and scientific bodies in the agri-food sector have recognized that they should be more accountable and responsive to the public at large, and should involve them in decision-making processes concerning technological applications to food whenever possible (Rowe and Frewer, 2000).

Since broader discussions about public involvement have a direct impact on the issue of communicating ethical traceability, this chapter will start with a short overview of recent discussions about the role of consumer concerns in regulatory and corporate decision-making processes. It begins by discussing the claim that (better) communication with consumers is quintessential for a socially responsible and responsive food production system. Next, three approaches to communication are discussed: firstly one-way information, secondly the use of participatory methods and finally co-production. The final section of the chapter outlines some of the implications for the purpose of communicating ethical traceability.


Food Supply Chain Consumer Concern Ethical Matrix Participatory Strategy Food Authority 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Volkert Beekman
    • 1
  • Christian Coff
    • 2
  • Michiel Korthals
    • 1
  • Liesbeth Schipper
    • 1
  1. 1.Applied Philosophy GroupWageningen UniversityNetherlands
  2. 2.Centre for Ethics and LawDenmark

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