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Book of Abstracts

11th IFOAM
Scientific Conference
11-15 August 1996
Copenhagen, Denmark

Abstract front page
Subject index
Athor index

Special Presentations

Product and environment: quality and public health F7

Meier-Ploeger, A., Vogtmann, H.

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When the term quality is used with respect to food a value judgement is made. The partners on the market, producers, processors, legislators and medical doctors or consumers might have different judgements about the value of a special food. Food and health policy and/or environmental problems may change their viewpoints quite rapidly.

As a consequence of the various food scandals in recent years, the increasing public awareness for environmental problems in general has focused on the matter of food quality in particular. The consequence of this awareness is a wider definition of food quality, as frequently used by scientists today.
Food quality is composed of various partial aspects and represents the sum of all characteristics scored highly by partners in the market. In former times only criteria such as appearance (trade classification), the technological quality (e. g. protein and/or starch content) and the biological quality (e.g. desirable and undesirable components) have been valued to determine food quality.

The evaluation of food quality by taking into account exclusively these criteria is not satisfying. Today we have to add ethical criteria such as the environmental, social and political dimensions of food production, processing and packaging.

Therefore new methods for the evaluation of the total range of parameters have to be developed. In the last few years some active steps haven been taken with the eco balance sheets or consumer shopping guides „Shopping for a better world" reflecting socially responsible supermarket shopping (CEP, 1992). The eco-balance sheet looks at the total route of food production from the field to the shelf in the shop, evaluating the ecological relevance of the production in relation to soil, water, air and non-renewable resources. A new movement in food and nutrition sciences, nutrition ecology, is trying to establish a more holistic view of food quality by not only describing food properties such as appearance etc. but also the influence of food production, processing and packaging on humans, social structure and environmental issues.