Major stakeholders in the ethics of food include the producer, the consumer, and the government. Individuals have a duty other than to themselves to be healthy. Eating harmful food can cause serious health problems to both the individuals and the community.
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Many risk factors causing diseases have a link with lifestyle. The World Health Organization has identified risk factors that may cause severe health problems. The top factors include low fruit and vegetable intake, tobacco and alcohol use, iron deficiency, and illicit drugs. Unhealthy diet choices sometimes lead to premature death. However, in given circumstances, they lead to injuries and diseases that require expensive medical care (Protein and amino acid requirements in human nutrition 84).
Individuals should have moral duties to other people to lead a healthy lifestyle. This creates a responsibility to make healthy decisions. The responsibility is imperative, but not always superseding. Normative considerations can trump it Korthals 35).
The duty to make healthy decisions follows from the need to avoid causing harm to others. Therefore, personal unhealthy decisions are immoral. They will cause harm to other people by means of increased medical rationing, higher taxes, and higher premiums. The cost of making the immoral decision is partly driving up the cost of medical care in most countries. The hospitals, in turn, allocate the costs to all people seeking their assistance.
Not all individuals who make unhealthy decisions are equally responsible for the choices. Upbringing, social and economic status, and geography are among factors that influence most of the decisions. In most cases, the support and resources needed to make the right decisions are often limited. Other players involved in the ethics of food come in at this level.
Everyone should have access to healthy food. Producers and the government should influence the society to appreciate the need to work hard to bring healthy food on the table. Some individuals have no ability to fend for themselves due to accidents, ailments, and joblessness. They also have a right to have access to healthy food.
A Place at The Table examines whether access to healthy food is a right or a privilege through the lens of three people. A single hardworking Philadelphia mother, Barbie, is trying to provide food for her two children without much success leading to severe psychological consequences.
A Colorado fifth-grader, Rosie, depends on friends for food. Lastly, a Mississippi second-grader is ailing from asthma and her mother cannot afford to provide for her food putting her life in danger (Jacobson and Lori). The author depicts food as a need that no one can go without taking for a few days.
The nutritional status of individuals depends on food they eat. Safe food is a basic life requirement that determines the health of the population. Therefore, healthy food is a basic human right.
The government has an obligation to ensure their citizens have access to healthy food. They pass laws that target at increasing food security. Some Philadelphian citizens have recognized that their government should execute this responsibility. They want the government not to regulate sharing food with the hungry (McHenry). The hungry depends on the government for food supply. Otherwise, they either seek food out of the garbage or face malnutrition.
Additionally, the Food Inc. documentary demonstrates that the government has the responsibility to improve access to health food. The documentary links the current methods of food production to the rapid growth of the fast food industry in which a few multinational corporations control the international food production business.
The main goal of the producers is increasing quantities of food at low costs resulting to maximization of profits. The corporations undermine the health and the safety of the employees and consumers. Apart from their focus in profit maximization, the corporations misuse the current technology to gain undue advantage over the competition (Kenner).
Food quality and safety control and food security also help increase access to healthy food. The government has the role of controlling urbanization and passing laws that reduce food insecurity. Rapid urbanization has led to pollution and lack of adequate resources in urban areas. However, inadequate supplies of water and sewage disposal vary from one location to another.
Rapid urbanization has stretched urban services beyond their limits. It is the role of the government to must intervene and facilitate the transportation of food from rural to urban locations to meet the deficit. However, often, the food transportation occurs in an environment that is not favorable to sanitation. The government needs to be cognizant of the prospective of agriculture to enhance food security. Another thing the government should do is train people on hygienic management and handling of food (Nestle 87).
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In addition, the government must take the appropriate steps through national food security policies, safety standards, systems and programs. It is necessary to weigh the gains against the cost of comprehensive food security policy and determine whether the systems are cost-effective.
The government has many other crucial roles to play. These other roles include ensuring the country has harmless locally produced raw and processed foods and improving access to global markets. It is also their duty to regulate the food industry. Challenges that the government regulations often address include low productivity and lack of efficient technology and techniques. The best way to respond to these challenges is focusing on food assistance and nutrition, sustainable agriculture, and research.
The food industry has the duty to comply with safety policies. The industry encompasses small-scale farmers, large-scale producers, and wholesale and retail markers. Food preservation, processing and packaging can be simple or complex. However, guaranteeing food safety constantly is essential.
The duty of the industry is to assure food quality throughout the application of the risk-based securing techniques using advanced scientific knowledge. The food industry can reduce health related problems in the society by the implementation of such controls throughout production, processing and marketing.
The industry self-regulation, where organizations set rules to govern their conduct, is another responsibility that the industry executes. Self-regulation is voluntary and designed to meet the needs of the society (Wilks 18). It conserves the government resources and is timelier than government regulation.
The consumer also has a role to play in enhancing their health. They have the right to sue food producers who sell to them unhealthy food. The universal food safety laws provide that any person who sells food not in the nature, the substance, or the quality of the food demanded for by the consumer is guilty of an offence. The law establishes the will of the government to protect its people from unsafe and adulterated foods. The government can achieve the objectives based on food regulation covering quality and safety.
Jacobson, Kristi , and Lori Silverbush. “Participant Media.” Participant Media RSS. N.p., n.d. Web.
Kenner, Robert . “Food, Inc..” IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web.
Korthals, Michiel. “The birth of philosophy and contempt for food.” Gastronomica 8.3 (2008): 62-69. Print.
McHenry, Keith . “Change.Org.” FOOD IS A RIGHT, NOT A PRIVILEGE. N.p., n.d. Web.
Nestle, Marion. Food politics: how the food industry influences nutrition and health. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002. Print.
Protein and amino acid requirements in human nutrition. Geneva: World Health Organization, 2007. Print.
Wilks, Nicoletta A.. Marketing food to children and adolescents a review of industry expenditures, activities, and self-regulation. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2009. Print.