‘Peeling Back the Mask’: Sociopathy and the Rhizomes of the eu Food Industry

in European Journal of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice
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This article examines the eu food industry (apropos of the 2013 ‘Horse Meat Scandal’) applying the notion of sociopathy which has hitherto been confined to analyses of corporate banking and insurance. In the ‘underground’ of the eu meat industry we encounter sociopaths nurtured not only by the rhizomes of its industrial con, but also by collective consumer apathy: Despite a pervasive culture of food fraud—with at least 1305 different ingredient adulteration cases since 1980—there is little criminological examination of the culture and environment of the everyday, ‘harmless’, sociopaths present in the tributaries of the eu food supply. More than merely mapping the food industry sociopath, our overall aim is to contribute an interdisciplinary reading of the processes which sustain and reproduce his kind.

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Shackell (2008) defines meat traceability as ‘the ability to maintain a credible custody of identification for animals or animal products through various steps within the food chain from the farm to the retailer’.

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Braithwaite (1989) was right here in pointing out that when regulation is too strict, unreasonable, uncooperative, inflexibly rulebook-oriented, organised business subcultures of resistance develop. Once there is a climate of hostility between the business (industry) and regulators, the regulators lose capacity for informal control over the managers and how the business is run.

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According to Claridge (2013), horse meat once had its place in cuisine, much like it does in some countries like France and Iceland: At times horsemeat was a sacrificial food, and at others, it seemed to be ordinary food, but it was often rebuked by early Christian missionaries, most often in the context of ritual feasts. In an attempt to tried to dissuade people from eating horse, ‘In 723 Pope Gregory iii issued a papal decree to St Boniface, explicitly forbidding the consumption of horse meat,’ (Claridge, 2013, p. 32).

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