Ethical Traceability and Informed Food Choice
The traceability of food and feed emerged as a focus for political attention and regulation at both national and international governmental levels at the turn of the millennium. The industrialization of food production and manufacture, and the complexities and anonymity of modern supply chains have been accompanied by a new wave of concerns around the safety and quality of the food supply. The emergent concept of keeping track of food products and their different ingredients through the various stages from field to plate offers a potential means of managing some of the recent safety and quality concerns around food. Food traceability covers a range of overlapping objectives, which are outlined below, and so has a wide potential appeal, to regulators, producers, processors, retailers and consumers alike.
In this chapter, we seek to establish the range of ethical concerns around food, drawing from an emerging canon of work on food ethics, and to look at the ways in which the concept of ethical traceability can enhance the public good of existing traceability systems. Traceability relates to where and how foods are produced. It follows that it has the potential to be developed as a tool for providing information to consumers that addresses their concerns about food production. As traceability retells the history of a food, it can address the ethical, as well as the practical and physical, aspects of that history, enabling more informed food choice. The importance of ethical traceability for consumers is essentially twofold: firstly, it can help them make informed food choices; and secondly, it can act as a (democratizing) means for enabling consumers to participate more fully as citizens in the shaping of the contemporary food supply. And ethical traceability has a third benefit, this time for food producers, who can use it as a tool for managing the ethical aspects of their own production practices and communicating ethical values about their products. In the following sections, the nature of food traceability and its differing but overlapping objectives are explained, and the role of ethical traceability is elaborated.
KeywordsSugar Obesity Europe Benzene Transportation
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Bantham, A. and J-L. Duval (2004) Connecting Food Chain Information for Food Safety/Security and New Value. John Deere, Food Origins.Google Scholar
- Barnett, C., N. Clarke, P. Cloke and A. Malpass (2005a) ‘Articulating Ethics and Consumption’, pp. 99–112, in M. Böstrom, F. Andreas et al. (eds.) Political Consumerism: Its Motivations, Power and Conditions in the Nordic Countries and Elsewhere. Proceedings from the 2nd International Seminar on Political Consumerism, Oslo, August 26–29, 2004, TemaNord.Google Scholar
- Barnett, C., N. Clarke, P. Cloke and A. Malpass (2005b) ‘Citizenship between individualization and participation: relocating agency in the growth of ethical consumerism in the United Kingdom’. http://www.open.ac.uk/socialsciences/staff/cbarnett/ethicalconsumption.htm. Accessed June 2007.
- Bingen, J. and L. Busch (eds.) (2006) Agricultural Standards. The Shape of the Global Food and Fiber System. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer. Series: The International Library of Environmental, Agricultural and Food Ethics, Vol. 6.Google Scholar
- CIES (2005) Implementing Traceability in the Food Supply Chain. Paris: CIES – The Food Business Forum.Google Scholar
- Clemens, R. (2003) Meat Traceability in Japan. Review Paper (IAR 9:4:4–5). Centre for Agricultural and Rural Development, Iowa State University, Iowa.Google Scholar
- Coff, C. (2006) The Taste for Ethics. An Ethic of Food Consumption. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer. Series: The International Library of Environmental, Agricultural and Food Ethics, Vol. 7.Google Scholar
- Consumer Citizenship Network (2006) http://www.hihm.no/eway/default.aspx?pid=252. Accessed October 2006.
- EU Standing Committee on the Food chain and Animal Health (2004) Guidance on the Implementation of Articles 11, 12, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20 of Regulation (EC) No. 178/2002 on General Food Law.Google Scholar
- European Commission (2006) Special Eurobarometer: Risk Issues. 238/Wave 64.1 – TNS Opinion and Social, Brussels.Google Scholar
- Farm Foundation (2004) Food Traceability and Assurance in the Global Food System. Farm Foundation’s traceability and Assurance Panel Report, July 2004.Google Scholar
- Food Strategy Division and Food Standards Agency (2002) Traceability in the Food Chain. A Preliminary Study. March 2002.Google Scholar
- GS1 (2006) The Global Traceability Standard. GS1. www.ciesnet.com.
- Harrison, R., D. Shaw and T. Newsholm (2005) The Ethical Consumer. London: Sage.Google Scholar
- Hutter, L. (2004) Assuring Food Safety in an Ever More Complex, Price Sensitive World. PPP at the FoodTrace conference (EU concerted action programme).Google Scholar
- ISO (2007) Traceability in Feed and Food Chains – General Principles and Basic Requirements for System Design and Implementation. ISO 22005, Geneva: International Standards Organisation.Google Scholar
- Korthals, M. (2004) Before Dinner. Philosophy and Ethics of Food. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer. Series: The International Library of Environmental, Agricultural and Food Ethics, Vol. 5.Google Scholar
- Lang, T. (2007) ‘The new order is values-for-money’, The Grocer, 230, 27 January: 29.Google Scholar
- Morrison, C. (2003) ‘Traceability in food processing: an introduction’, pp. 458–470 in M. Lees (ed.) Food anthenticity and traceability. Cambridge: Woodhead.Google Scholar
- USDA (2004) Traceability in the U.S. Food Supply: Economic Theory and Industry Studies. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Economic Report Number 830, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
- Welfare Quality (2005) Science and Society Improving Animal Welfare in the Food Quality Chain. EU funded project FOOD-CT-2004-506508. www.welfarequality.net