Ethics is a theory of moral values that deals with right or wrong. More so, ethics is a collective moral obligation that guides organizations in all industries as well as persons in the performance of their duties as explained by Shaw (2008). As such, there are different categories of ethics such as leadership ethics, employees’ ethics, and organizational culture ethics among others. In this paper, there will be an analysis of the article, The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food, by Michael Moss. Therein, the study will highlight ethical issues discussed in the article. Afterward, it will illustrate the ethical models that are most appropriate to address the ethical issues identified in the article. The paper will also discuss alternative solutions to the ethical issues in the paper and pick the optimal solutions that maximize the welfare of all the stakeholders involved. Finally, the study will draw conclusions based on the analysis of the entire discussion.
This section explores the ethical issues highlighted in The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food by Michael Moss. It will discuss the facts presented to support the ensuing ethical issues in the food industry in U.S.
In a broad sense, food safety covers handling of food stuff, their preparation as well as storage with the aim of preventing the buyers from negative effects upon consumption as explained by Redman (2000). As such, there is a need to conduct surveys on the products and perform routine checks to make sure that food security meets the set standards. However, the article indicates that food security in U.S. is not optimal due to the incremental cases on children obesity leading to diabetes, hypertension and heart diseases. Moreover, the article states that one in three adults and one in five kids is diagnosed with obesity. In total, the article estimates that 24 million Americans suffer from type-2 diabetes, associated with poor diet while 79 million have pre-diabetes as discussed by Michael (2013). These problems stem in large part from the poor quality of food supplied by the food companies. Consequently, there is a mainstream concern on the levels of salt, sugar content and fat contained in the food products supplied in the country. Additionally, the paper notes that there is "hidden power" in some processed food products that make the consumers feel hungrier to create induced demand of those specific products. Factually, such actions compromise the food security since it leads to overeating and eventual obesity and its adverse health effects.
Public health issues
Public health entails prevention of diseases and promotion of health through set mechanisms and making optimal choices for the entire society as explained Ivanov and Blue (2008). As such, it should discern the risks and dangers posed by food products in the industry. However, the article is eloquent in voicing the shortcoming of the public health in several fronts due to laxity in making bills and also in the implementation of safety measures by the body entrusted with that responsibility. Particularly, there are fragile controls of” hidden power” issues as well as intervening on behalf of the public to have the food companies C.E.Os comply with food safety.
Moreover, there is less activity by the public health body is applying professional expertise to understand the root-causes of the overeating habits in U.S. In other instances the code that guides marketing of the food products is not elaborate enough leading to susceptibility of consumers due to unchecked food companies seeking to maximize profits and market share at the expense of the buyers.
In the light of health problems caused by over-eating, the leaders of Nestlé, Kraft and Nabisco, General Mills, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Mars attended an organized committee to give their inputs on the best way to tackle the epidemic as highlighted by Michael (2013). Clearly, this indicates that the leaders accept there are rules and regulation that need reviewing and enforcement to keep their clients healthy. Indeed, some leaders felt that the issues in the food industry should be met with the same intensity as the cigarette. The acceptance and honesty are a clear path to tackle the health problems brought by poor eating choices in the country. However, the products that some of the leaders introduced in their companies during their tenure-ship contradict the principle of integrity. For instance, veritable dessert, a product of General Mills contains twice the sugar content that traditional unsweetened breakfast yogurt contained before transformation. As such, the leaders need to be on the frontline both in policy formulation and enforcement to maintain public health.
The principle of responsibility yields optimal results in cases where all the stakeholders play their role without any supervision. Particularly, the consumers, public health community, the government, food companies as well as the academia among other players in the food industry have distinct roles to play. However, there are cases of poor consumer choices, weak regulation enforcement, unhealthy products and dishonest marketing among other irresponsible conducts. More so, some of the C.E.Os pointed that their products follow the consumers demand which is often good taste. As such, poor diet choices makes a consumer to sacrifice the nutrition values for sweetness as indicated by this statement, “Talk to me about taste, and if this stuff tastes better, don’t run around trying to sell stuff that doesn’t taste good” as noted by Michael (2013) On the other hand, the food companies apply appealing adverts that may advocate for products that hurt the health of their consumers. Therefore, accountability is lacking from entirely all aspects of the food industry.
The model holds that the optimal moral action should aim at maximizing the welfare of the parties involved as discussed by Claywell (2013). Particularly, the food industry supplies products to a large number of consumers on a daily basis since the products are basic needs. Moreover, the products have a potential of causing immediate health issues especially if the food safety guidelines are not followed. Therefore, the producers should go beyond responding to the demand since the market is always coupled with inefficiency brought by incomplete information regarding the content of food products.
The companies need to maximize their production while maximizing the utility of their targeted consumers. For instance, the food company should reduce the sugar, salt and fat content in their products to maximize the health of their consumers. Additionally, they need to adhere to the integrity principle when advertising their products to make sure that the consumers are aware of the contents of the products advertised. Still, the public health community needs to apply this same model in reviewing and enforcing food policies to make sure that consumer safety and health are optimal. Summarily, the health problems caused by poor feeding need an appeal to personal efforts in optimizing the health of the buyers. Specifically, eliminating the health problems brought by food products through stakeholders’ decision need to adopt the welfare utility of the entire community regardless of the opportunity costs incurred.
Supposedly, conformance to the Utilitarianism schools of thought will aid the food companies’ leaders, consumers and the public health community in making the right decisions and taking the right actions about the public health, accountability and food safety among other ethical issues in the food industry. Thereby, the model leads to immediate change due to their focus on personal efforts and morality instead of waiting for the systems or the rules to make the change in the food sector.
Alternatives to the ethical issues
There is a range of alternatives for each of the identified ethical issue in the article. The aim of this section is to propose optimal choices that assure consumers food safety without slicing on the companies’ profits. In the case of the junk food that is sweet but unhealthy, the company can pursue health and wellness by marketing healthy products in a diligent way. Particularly, the article highlights that the company can employ psychological selling such as selling vegetable products with no sugar and salt as snacks by targeting a particular market. Alternatively, the company may opt to keep the junk products but apply integrity in marketing and also in sensitization of the consumers on potential risks incurred after consuming the products. This will reduce the rate of obesity and consequential health problem.
Nonetheless, the introduction of healthy products and applying psychological marketing will solve the food safety issue completely since it is in line with the Utilitarianism Model. Therefore, the consumers will get the drive to make positive choices, and the sellers will make optimum sales due to the marketing conducted.
The firms also need to carry out market surveys to collect feedback from the consumers, public health community and the academia on their take on the issue of addictive food and the obesity problems. After that, the food company will conduct a conjoint analysis of the preferred tastes, safety measures, and wellness among other aspects of the food product. This will be instrumental in factoring in the safety factor in the food products from a broad perspective while maintaining the tastes and preferences of the food products. This will help the firm make a positive impact on the health of consumers without losing profits and market share.
On the other hand, the company would approach the public from the rule model where it comes up with the guidelines that are morally right without conducting market research and consumer analysis. This approach relies on the market for value. Here, the first alternative is better since it is adequate in creating public health as it bases on the welfare of all the stakeholders in the food security. Therefore, consultation will increase both the processed food safety and market share due to participatory views.
Finally, there several approaches to leadership integrity and accountability issues to impart positive trends in the food industry. Firstly, there are conferences and seminars to create awareness among all the stakeholders. This will present them with food tips and enlighten them on personal responsibility in eating healthy and making the right decisions. In the case of leadership, there is a need to introduce penalty and rewards for the violations of the standards and regulations set by the public health community.
Alternatively, the leadership and accountability can take the form of virtue ethics where the stakeholders reference on the morality when making decisions on food products supplied, advertisement and marketing as well as enforcement of the regulations among other factors influencing the processed food preparation, marketing, and storage. Here, the second alternative is superior to the first one since adherence to morality will eliminate the preventable problems such as launching of products with high sugar content and misleading advertisement targeting children. Additionally, the alternative is cheaper to implement and leads to immediate results since it appeals on a personal effort to do the right thing.
The discussion of ethical issues in the article leads to several conclusions. Firstly, the discussion indicates that ethics in the food industry is a collective obligation for the stakeholders such as public health community, leaders, employees and the consumers. Still, the paper shows that appealing to morality will improve adherence to ethics in the food industry, thus increasing food safety, public health and accountability. Finally, there are several alternatives to issues; therefore, the management should evaluate all the potential solutions to optimize on the welfare of the stakeholders.
Claywell, L. (2013). LPN to RN transitions.
Ivanov, L. L., & Blue, C. L. (2008). Public health Nursing: Leadership, Policy, & Practice. Australia: Delmar Cengage Delmar.
Michael, M. (February 20, 2013). The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food
Redman, N. (2000). Food safety: A reference handbook. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO.
Shaw, W. H. (2008). Business ethics. Belmont, Calif: Thomson Wadsworth.