chapter  2
Food safety and consumer rationality
Is a “food pact” possible?
ByFlorent Champy
Pages 12

Some researchers studying risk perceptions argue that general concern about risks has been increasing for decades, while actual risks have never been as low as the present level. Thus, attitudes towards risk may often seem irrational. Based on the attitudes towards food risks, this chapter criticizes the conception of rationality underlying this argument and proposes an investigation about the rationale of eaters’ attitudes towards risks. It highlights three crucial dimensions of the problem: the anthropological specificity of food, the uncertainties consumers are facing and the close relationship between trust and rationality in uncertain contexts. A presentation of the general evolutions of food industries sheds light on the good reasons consumers have not to trust them. Finally, the chapter presents the notion of “food pact”. Used by the food industry to seek to restore trust, this notion is systematically compared to the concept of “pact of care”, which the French philosopher Paul Ricœur created as part of his reflection about relations between patients and professional caregivers. This comparison allows both regarding the food pact as a possible precise analytical concept, and understanding the structural difficulties faced by industrials to restore the trust of food consumers.