Governance and Regulation as Risk Management
Chapter 4: State Governance of Food Safety and Food Hygiene: The Regulatory Regime and the Views of Those in the Food Sector
The regulation of the risks associated with food safety was part of the dramatic extension of state interests and power in nineteenth-century Britain when the Adulteration of Food Act, 1860, and the Food and Drugs Act, 1860, were passed. Paulus’s (1974) detailed study The Search for Pure Food argues that the Food and Drugs Acts are representative of nineteenth-century welfare legislation in their use of the criminal law to protect consumers from the damaging practices of business and the ways in which they accommodated the needs of different interest groups (see Hutter 1988; Paulus 1974). Draper and Green (2002) also regard this early legislation as protective of consumers with regard to fraudulent and then negligent behaviours by food manufacturers and sellers. At first this focused on fraud and food composition (including chemical adulteration), but later in the nineteenth century it also extended to bacterial contamination and the risks of food poisoning. Draper and Green explain that there then followed a long period of relative quiet from the government and public with respect to food and food safety. The exception was the debate on the pasteurization of milk. But to all intents and purposes the subject aroused little interest until the 1970s when food came onto the agenda as a result of concerns about the relationship between diet and health. And in the late 1980s a series of food scares placed food and its safety firmly on the public and political agendas. These events brought public confidence in the state, experts...
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