Food Ethics

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What are the origins of the word "ethics"?
Derived from greek word "ethos" which can mean custom, habit, character or disposition
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What is ethics?
System of moral principles and is concerned with what is good for individuals and society. Values are often engrained within members of society as a result of experiences/conversations.
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What is food ethics?
Interdisciplinary field that provides analysis (ethical) and guidance for human conduct in the production, preparation and consumption of food
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Aside from animal welfare, what other issues might be covered by food ethics arguements?
Wasteful packaging- wasteful use of resources- unsustainable e.g. single bananas in plastic wrapped box; type of marketing
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What types of marketing could be seen as unethical?
Aggressive marketing campaigns aimed at the vulnerable i.e. children; inappropriate marketing campaigns promoting food waste or unhealthy eating e.g. buy 1 get 1 free; misleading marketing
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Provide some examples of misleading advertising?
Red bull- tag line: "Red bull gives you wings" alongside claims the caffeinated drink could improve a consumer's concentration and reaction speed. Company was sued in 2014 and agreed to pay US$10 to every customer who had bought the drink since 2002
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Why is it argued that price promotions are unfair for customer's health?
Price promotions=used extensively on unhealthy products e.g. ready meals, confectionery, snacks, sauces etc. Special offices are 20% more likely to have red traffic light levels of sugar compared to non-offers.(Dobson et al, 2014)
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What is the issue with using terminology such as "all-natural"; "no added sugar" and "sugar-free"?
Misleading: All natural-can contain unhealthy ingredients e.g. preservatives/fructose corn syrup. No added sugar- maltodextrin can be used (carbohydrate); Sugar free- just have to have
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Which products are labelled: zero trans-fat or cholesterol free?
Zero trans-fats- contain less than 0.5 g/serving. Cholesterol free- contains less than 2 mg /serving. Low cholesterol = less than 20 mg or less per serving.
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What ethical issues are assoicated with the ingredients used in food and drinks products
Improper use of pesticides, antibiotics and other chemicals e.g. in milk, meat products.
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What chemicals can be found in 1 pint of milk? Why?
Estrone (hormone); 17a-ethinylestradial (steroid hormone). Administered to cows
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When must GMO's be labelled? Are there any ethical issues here?
Under the EU regulation No.1829/2003- GM plants, seeds and flours must be labelled as GMO. However animals fed GM feed do not have to labelled. neither does products such as cheese made with GM enzymes, or food additives e.g. Lecithin from GM soybean
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Why are there issues with using child labour or illegal immigrants?
Agriculture is often seasonal- large number of casual laborers are required during particular seasons. Many producers use vulnerable groups- less aware/able to use worker's rights
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What is factory farming?
An intensive system of raising animals as livestock for human consumption
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How has selective breeding impacted on the size of broiler chickens (eaten as meat)?
Companies e.g. Cobb/Aviagen group- bred chickens to mature over a shorter time (84 days in 1956- 34 days to reach 2kg in 2000).
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How does the exacerbated growth rate effect the health of the chickens?
Bone structure doesn't develop quickly enough. In UK 2006- 28% of chickens were 1/2 lame. 1-2% develop heart problems
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Why are breeding stock starved?
Have the same growth rate but need to be kept alive- starved so life is prolonged to a maturity stage where they can be bred
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What are hock burns?
Injuries sustained by chickens to their skin as a result of being made to stand in crowded and unclean conditions with urine etc.
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What farming systems are there for hens kept for egg consumption?
Caged system- 450 cm2 for each chicken; Barn system- not caged but flocks can be huge e.g. up to 16,000 birds per barn; free range = 12 hens per m2 also have to have access to an outdoor range area (New Laying Hens directive 1999/74/EC
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What are enriched cages?
600 cm2 per chicken. Original caged system method banned in UK.
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What unethical practices take place in rearing calves for consumption (veal)?
Confined in crates for 24 weeks. Low-iron liquid diet to keep the calf flesh white- calves are on verge of clinical anaemia.
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What unethical practices occur in the rearing of pregnant sows?
Tail docking and tooth clipping
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What other unethical practices occur in the rearing of chicks and cattle?
Debeaking. Removal of horn buds with caustic soda.
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What is the definition of animal welfare set by Brambell in 1965?
Physical and mental wellbeing, where behaviour is a key signal
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How effective was the Brambell report in improving animal welfare?
Recommendations included: "certain things that should never be done because they can never be justified as they are so abusive" and "if something is permissible, then it should be done in the most humane manner." Result: predecessor of FAWC set up
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What are the 5 freedoms agreed upon by the farm animal welfare council in 1976 which encourage better animal welfare?
Freedom from hunger & thirst; freedom from discomfort; freedom from pain, injury and disease; freedom from fear and distress; freedom to express normal behaviour
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Why might there be a need for fairtrade?
Prices being driven down by retailers to attract consumers decreases the income of proucers
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What ethical environmental issues are there in the food industry?
Lack of awareness/respect for ecosystems and resources and the pollution being contributed to- unsustainable
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How should the government encourage more ethical practices in the food industry?
Regulate advertising health claims; commit to social welfare with education on nutrition and health and improve access to healthy food; improve labelling and ensure the retail sector is sufficiently accountable to customers, suppliers and the public
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What attitudes do consumers in the UK have to animal welfare? (DEFRA)
26%:not concerned/buy few free range; 21% think- important but can't afford to buy more ethically; 5% buy free range but unsure of ethics; 26% - issue=important + good understanding
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What is an ethical matrix?
A checklist of concerns structured around an established ethical theory
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What would the most ethical agro-food system include?
Respect for the wellbeing, autonomy and justice of people in the food industry, the publics, farm animals and the living environment.
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What is the most widely traded commodities in the world according to BBC dispatchers?
Fish
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How big is the fish industry in the UK?
In 2009- consumers spent £6 bn
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Why is the label "fresh" on the fish sold on speciality counters in supermarkets misleading?
In small print- "previously frozen". Not actually fresh. Supermarkets say individual packs are clearly labelled and the signs are just to make consumers aware they can buy fresh loose fish nearby
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What is the currency of the international frozen fish business?
7.5 kg blocks of fish
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What is used to make cheap fish fingers?
Minced fish - offcuts
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What happens to some of the fish blocks instead of being made into products?
Kept in frozen storage e.g. Grimsby- one of cold store capitals of Europe
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How long can fish be kept in cold storage?
Law doesn't specify- only stipulation is that it must be fit for human consumption. Up to those in the industry. Can be up to 15 months.
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How do fish suppliers and supermarkets justify using cold stores for fish?
So that there is always a supply- won't disappoint customers
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What are the dangers of inadequate management of cold storage?
Improper management- e.g. case study of one investigated in 2008. Alan Rich seafoods. Fish discovered with sell-by-dates of 2003, rat droppings, awful smell, frozen maggots on some fish.
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What happened as a result of the inspection?
Condemnation order for all fish on premises but bad record keeping by company= unlikely all fish stored there would have been taken off the shelves. At court- guilty of 21 breaches of hygiene + animal product regulations. Owner:prison sentence.
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Give a case study of a mislabeling epidemic based in Worcester?
Fish and chip shops- selling a type of catfish produced in Vietnam as cod- doubles profit. Many fish and chip shops found guilty- fined 1000s pounds.
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Does cod mislabeling extend to supermarkets?
Asda-15/15 were cod Sainsbury's-20/21 were cod. One was haddock-mislabeled. Tesco- 4/21 labelled as pacific cod but N.Atlantic cod- different species.
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Why might it be a problem that atlantic cod were labeled as pacific?
Atlantic cod= overfished- fish stocks are depleted compared to the pacific cod. Consumers can't make an informed decisions.
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What is the difference between whole and reformed scampi?
Whole- tails of Dublin bay prawns in breadcrumbs. Reformed- uses the scrap meat.
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Why might reformed scampi be bad for health?
Uses STPP to make scrap meat stick together (industrial chemical) can cause irritation and many other side effects
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Why are phosphates used to process fish?
Make them last longer- also add to water content- make fish go further- some budget scampi in Asda- only 18% actual scampi
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Why is it so hard to regulate aquaculture in Bangladesh?
200,000 hectares of land under aquaculture- impossible to ensure all rules are followed
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What hygiene issues have been found in the way prawns are reared in Bangladesh?
Latrines- draining straight into ponds; use of Thiodan- pesticide control disease. Contains a chemical currently banned in over 50 countries around the world including the EU- toxic to the environment + harmful side-effects : paralysis + birth defect
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What further issues are found along the rest of the supply chain for prawns in Bangladesh?
All fish= mixed together- no way of tracing back to farms. Prawns washed with well water. Swarms of flies. Dogs wandering around chewing on bits.
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What human rights abuses have occurred due to the prawn industry in Bangladesh?
Villages evicted to make way for more farms. Crops are cut down and land is flooded with salt water. Villagers are threatened with death if they try to reclaim lands and so survive on a much smaller piece of land.
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Are there are mechanisms in place to protect consumers from eating contaminated products?
European commission decides which countries can export to EU but overall- reliant upon countries policing themselves. British authorities check imports from outside the EU-check paperwork- but impossible to inspect all
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According to Fraser at al, 1997 what 3 animal welfare concerns are there which would contribute to a good quality of life?
Animals should- feel well (+ experience pleasures); function well (satisfactory health) and lead natural lives through use of development and use of natural adaptations/capabilities (calves may have desire to suckle over drinking from a bucket).
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Why do some look to science for animal welfare criteria?
Welfare- subjective term-many views on how other animals should be treated and what constitutes a "good life"
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What are the pros and cons of using science to set welfare standards?
Some things can be empirically measured- e.g. pain, health. Studies may increase awareness of how animals are treated. However- other things cannot be empirically measured- e.g. life satisfaction of an animal. Also scientists may have biased views.
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Overall according to a Eurobarometer poll what proportion of the public believe more should be done to improve animal welfare?
78.3% (Vanhonacker et al, 2007)
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What do the majority of both farmers and citizens usually equate to animal welfare?
Physical health- e.g. adequate food & water, heating, shelter and protection
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What were the differences between the ideas on animal welfare for citizens and farmers?
Citizens added in the idea of having freedom to fulfill natural desires whereas farmers tended to be more concerned with optimising production- more economically driven
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When Belgian consumers make decisions about their meat consumption what factors were listed as most important?
45%- healthiness; 32%-leanness and lack of harmful substances; >8%- cited animal friendly production (Verbecke and Vienne, 1999)
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What reasons does the FAO of the UN give for redistributing nutrition resources?
Freeing the whole of humanity from hunger and malnutrition is a moral obligation. The world has the capacity to produce adequate quantities of nutritious food but gross inequalities exist which prevents this being shared.(FAO Ethics series, UN 2001).
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How equally is the world's income distributed?
Very unequally - the world's richest 200 people have 41% of the total global income (FAO Ethics series, UN 2001)
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What is the precautionary principle?
The idea that if levels of uncertainty as to what potential impacts will be, proceed with extreme caution
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What contradiction exists between the way humans view different animals?
Some- pets (part of families) Others- view as food - haven't formed a close relationship- distance exists
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Why do fast food chains have such an influence on production systems?
Model- small menu- same everywhere. Huge demand for a few products e.g. McDonalds=largest purchaser of ground beef in America. Wants big suppliers. Now 4 largest beef processors own 80% market.
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Why are chicken farmers so dependent on massive meat suppliers in America?
To build one poultry house- US$28,000 to US$30,000 for one house. Companies demand farmers to keep purchasing new equipment- or threaten to cut contract. Debts increase- become dependent on buyers
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List some of the ingredients you can produce just from corn?
Sorbital, high fructose corn syrup, semolina, cellulose. xylitol, saccharin, xanthan gum, ascorbic acid, baking powder, vanilla extract, starch, margarine.
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What has allowed american people to eat on average 200 pounds of meat per person per year?
Animals are fed cheap grain- corn
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What are CAFOs?
Concentrated animal feeding operations
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What effect does eating corn have on cows?
Cows- evolved to eating grass not corn. High corn diet= harmful E-coli become more resistant- mutation occurs- E. coli 0157:H7
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How else does E-coli 0157:H7 get into meat?
Cows stand ankle deep in manure. When they get to slaughter house- hides are caked in manure.
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How many slaughter houses process the majority of beef in the US?
13
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How has food inspection changed in America over time?
1972- FDA 50,000 inspections. 2006-FDA conducted 9,164. FDA funding cut. Allow industry to self-regulate largely.
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What happened when the USDA attempted to enforce that a plant can be shut down if it repeatedly fails microbial testing for Salmonella and E. Coli 0157: H7 in 1998?
Meat and poultry associations took USDA to court. Court ruled the USDA did not have the authority to shut down the courts
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How easy would it be to remove harmful E-coli from the gut of cattle fed on corn?
Feed for 5 days grass- shed 80% E-coli from gut
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What high tech fixes are being used to reduce the incidence of E.Coli 0157:H7? How widely spread is it used?
Cleansed with ammonia. Meat is in 70% hamburgers in USA
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Card 2

Front

What is ethics?

Back

System of moral principles and is concerned with what is good for individuals and society. Values are often engrained within members of society as a result of experiences/conversations.

Card 3

Front

What is food ethics?

Back

Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4

Front

Aside from animal welfare, what other issues might be covered by food ethics arguements?

Back

Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5

Front

What types of marketing could be seen as unethical?

Back

Preview of the front of card 5
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