Journal Article

Food additives: an ethical evaluation

Ben Mepham

in British Medical Bulletin

Volume 99, issue 1, pages 7-23
Published in print September 2011 | ISSN: 0007-1420
Published online July 2011 | e-ISSN: 1471-8391 | DOI:
Food additives: an ethical evaluation

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Food additives are an integral part of the modern food system, but opinion polls showing most Europeans have worries about them imply an urgent need for ethical analysis of their use.

Sources of data

The existing literature on food ethics, safety assessment and animal testing.

Areas of agreement

Food additives provide certain advantages in terms of many people's lifestyles.

Areas of controversy

There are disagreements about the appropriate application of the precautionary principle and of the value and ethical validity of animal tests in assessing human safety.

Growing points

Most consumers have a poor understanding of the relative benefits and risks of additives, but concerns over food safety and animal testing remain high.

Areas timely for developing research

Examining the impacts of food additives on consumer sovereignty, consumer health and on animals used in safety testing should allow a more informed debate about their appropriate uses.

Keywords: food ethics; food safety; consumer sovereignty; ADHD; cancer; animal experiments; precautionary principle

Journal Article.  6000 words. 

Subjects: Medicine and Health

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