I analyse “food scandals” in the sphere between humanities and the sciences

I am a sociologist having researched acrylamide in foodstuffs for years. Initially I was just interested in the question about how politics dealt with this issue. Soon I started immersing myself into the specific research fields related to acrylamide because this topic is very complex. It cannot be understood without consideration of research results, e. g. from epidemiology, toxicology or methods of analysis. Many insights can be transferred to other “food scandals”: By means of the analysis of the “acrylamide case”, I created for myself an exhaustive overview on the processes in the policy area.

Acrylamide in French fries (chips), BSE in meat or coumarin in cinnamon stars – at any time something can be found in food that is a surprise for the public and which is not supposed to be there. Crisis situations can emerge creating political pressure but the incidents usually get soon overshadowed by new topics. In many cases a solution is not simple because new information is required on which political decisions can be based. There is always the danger that the topics will soon be forgotten. However, if politics want to protect consumers’ health, the causes of “food scandals” should be resolved or at least be brought under control.

I am combining the scientific and the socioscientific views on these unpleasant topics. I reveal how society deals with risks. I am driven by the question: How can transparency be created in the policy area, how is it possible to better comprehend the processes? By analysing scientific and political facts, I am contributing to the creation of transparency and to the support of authorities to find solutions that are in the public interest. This is how I understand my mission as an expert for political questions related to health-related consumer protection.

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