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Food, Science and Society   P. S. Belton

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Gesunde Ernährung
Schriftenreihe der Dr.Rainer Wild -Stiftung
Healthy Nutrition
Book series edited by the Dr.Rainer Wild-Stiftung
Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg GmbH
P. Belton . T. Belton (Eds.)
Food, Science
and Society
Exploring the Gap Between Expert Advice
and Individual Behaviour
School of Chemical Seiences
University of East Anglia
Norwich NR4 7TJ
United Kingdom
School of Education and Professional Development
University of East Anglia
Norwich NR4 7TJ
United Kingdom
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Food, science and society : exploring the gap between expe rt advice and individual
behaviour / P. Belton ; T. Belton (eds .)
p. cm. - (Gesunde Ernährung)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
I. Food adulteration and inspection. 2. Food-Social aspects. 3. Risk assessment. I.
Belton, P.S. II. Belton, T. (Teresa), 1952-III. Series .
TX531 .F5687 2003
This work is subject to copyright. All rights are reserved, whether the whole or part of the material is
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parts thereof is only permitted under the provisions of the German Copyright Law of September 9, 1965, in
its current version, and permission for use must always be obtained from Springer-Verlag. Violations are
liable for Prose cution under the German Copy right Law.
© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2003
Originally published by Springer-VerlagBerlin Heidelberg New York in 2003.
Softcover reprint of the hardcover 1st edition 2003
The use of general descriptive narnes, registered narnes, trademarks, ete. in this publication does not imply,
even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and
regulations and therefore free for general use.
Product liability: The publisher cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information about dosage and
application contained in this book. In every individual case the user must check such information by con -
sulting the relevant literature.
Production Editor: Renate Albers, Berlin
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Coverdesign: Struve & Partner, Heidelberg
Printed on acid-free paper SPIN: 10992371 5213111 - 5432 1
ISBN 978-3-642-07840-8 ISBN 978-3-662-07285-1 (eBook)
DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-07840-8
There is widespread concern amongst consumers about the safety and accep-
tability of food . At the same time industry, regulators and scientists find them-
selves frustrated that their advice is ignored or dismissed for reasons that they
do not understand or that appear to them to lack credibility. There is clearly a
communication gap between consumers and many food professionals. There
is no easy way to bridge thi s gap. However,we believe that the situation can be
improved by developing a more empathetic and open approach to the issues.
In order to improve dialogue scientists must re-examine their position and the
limitations to a purely technical approach to food issues.
Science is no longer accorded the authority it once enjoyed. It is one among a
number of contending stances. It cannot expect its claims to objectivity and
value free knowledge to be universally accepted. At the same time science does
have much of relevance to say about the scientific and technological issues
facing society today, and its contribution to these debates should not be mar-
ginalised. The problem for the scientist is how to engage in debate in a way in
which the contribution of science can be weighed together with the, some-
times unspoken, contribution from other perspectives as weIl as social and
cultural factors .
The book falls into three sections. The first section examines the general issu-
es of the roles of seience, culture and risk perception in relation to food at the
beginning of the 21 st century.The second contains two chapters which examine
two particular areas. One is the important role of the mass media in questions
of food risk and policy. The other is a detailed analysis of attitudes to eating
fruit and vegetables, used as an exemplar of the need to understand such
matters in a broad context.
The third section describes three practical experiences at the interface bet-
ween scientists and lay people, in policy-making, agricultural practice in a
traditional culture and awareness raising. These three chapters offer accounts
of the two-way nature of the communication process and ofhow attempts may
be made to bridge the gaps in a variety of social and cultural environments.
Norwich, [une 2002
Peter S. Belton and Teresa Belton
In each individual's life, eating and drinking playa central role. All over the
world, people consume food and drink, usually on a daily basis. Practiced from
the beginning, every day contains any number of mostly spontaneous and
arbitrary encounters with food and drink. These encounters are not solely of
a physiological nature but are also always marked by norms and values of
society and by personallikes and dislikes. Hence, regarding their own food,
every individual is an expert from very early on. It is usual to talk during meals
as well as about meals, for example, what was eaten, when and where, how it
was prepared, and what it was like.
Generally, science choses a very different approach to eating. Instead of sub-
jective experiences, "objective" examinations of certain issues, and observa-
tions and calculations are made, compared and discussed in context with oth-
er scientific data. Scientific expert knowledge develops only after a long peri-
od of purposeful dealing with the relevant applicable methods. The scientific
discourse about food poses questions such as how is food eaten, which food
and ingredients are consumed, how nutritional is it, and on what basis are
choices made. Based on scientific facts, the individual is often instructed as to
how and what they should eat and why. It is not surprising that mutual under-
standing is hard to come by - here, different worlds meet.
The 8th volume of the series by the Dr. Rainer Wild-Stiftung is concerned with
this problem. Thus, it fits in well with the work and goals of the Heidelberg
foundation for a healthy nutrition, which strives to contribute to the holistic
understanding of nutrition. To this end, the foundation addresses scientists
and mediators in the food sector and encourages them to look beyond the
obvious. Details regarding the philosophy and activities of the Dr. Rainer
Wild-Stiftung can be found in the back of the book.
The topic of the book directly picks up the thread from previous volumes
of the series that dealt with consumer uncertainty (K. Bergmann, Dealing
with Consumer Uncertainty: Public Relations in the Food Sector, 2002) and
with the public debate about genetically modified food (L. H. Grimme and
S. Dumontet, eds., Food Quality, Nutrition and Health, 2000) . It meets Peter
Belton'sdemand to think about the position of science in a post-modern society
(P.Belton, 'Nutritional Science in Global Perspective', in G.U.Schönberger and
U. Spiekermann, eds., Die Zukunft der Ernährungswissenschaft; 2000, pub-
lished in German only).
We would like to thank the editors, Teresa and Peter Belton, for allowing us
to publish their book as part of this series .Weare pleased that communication
regarding this publication was not only considered theoretically, but was also
carried out practically and smoothly. Furthermore, we would like to thank all
authors for embracing the topic and for pursuing it in their contributions. Last
but not least, a thank you to the team of the Springer-Verlag

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