Food labels, autonomy and the right (not) to know

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Food labelling has been overlooked in the emerging body of literature concerning the normative dimensions of food and drink policies. In this paper, I argue that arguments normally advanced in bioethics and medical ethics regarding the “right to know” and the “right not to know” can provide useful normative guidelines for critically assessing existing and proposed food labelling regimes. More specifically, I claim that food labelling ought to respect the legitimate interests and the autonomy of both consumers who seek knowledge about their food in order to make informed dietary choices and consumers who prefer to remain ignorant about the contents and effects of their food in order to avoid the emotional and psychological harm, or more simply the loss of enjoyment, which may result from receiving that information.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-321
Number of pages21
JournalKennedy Institute of Ethics Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

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