University of Missouri researchers believe actions that worsen food-borne disease outbreaks are not always conscious, citing the US as of 2011 Listeria Breakout as an example.


Cantaloupes from a farm in Colorado were linked to the United States Listeria Outbreak in 2011

Amid a pandemic that has claimed more than two million lives Understanding the factors that cause and promote disease outbreaks is more important than ever.

Well in one study University of Missouri researchers, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, claim that cognitive bias – patterns of thinking errors that often unconsciously influence judgments and behavior – can help cause and worsen foodborne disease outbreaks.

“Unethical behavior is not always intentional. Conflicts of interest and other unconscious motivations can lead people to behave in ways that cause outbreaks to develop and spread, ”said Harvey James, associate director of the social sciences department and professor of agriculture and economics in the United States MU University of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR).

„If we can understand what motivates a shopkeeper to reopen too early or a grocery producer to cut corners, we can create better policies and regulations that move people in the right direction without restricting their freedoms.”

James and Michelle Segovia, Assistant Professor of Agriculture and Business Studies at CAFNR, endeavored to apply the science of ethics to food safety. Behavioral ethics examines why people make ethical and unethical decisions. To find out how these choices could contribute to a foodborne disease outbreak, the researchers turned to the Jensen Farms case.

In 2011, the Colorado Cantaloupe producer was found to be the source of a Listeria outbreak that resulted in 33 deaths in 28 states. Researchers claim the outbreak occurred despite Jensen Farms recently reviewing their food safety procedures and installing new cleaning equipment.

To explain this contradiction, the researchers identified various forms of cognitive bias at work. Motivated blindness, for example, encourages a person or a company to represent their own interests without considering conflicts of interest. In Jensen Farms’ case, James and Segovia theorized that motivated blindness was to blame for the decision to hire an indulgent inspector who considered the company’s food safety practices „superior”.

In addition, the researchers highlighted the unconsciousness of cognitive biases using an example of omission bias, where failure to take action in place of a specific harmful act can have unfortunate consequences. Although Jensen Farms had an appliance cord for cleaning cantaloupes with an antibacterial wash, the U.S. attorney’s office for Colorado said the antibacterial feature was was not used before the outbreak.

„Jensen Farms believed that they would make their cantaloupes safer even though they hadn’t taken any action that could have prevented an outbreak,” suggested James. “This is a perfect example of how unethical behavior doesn’t have to be a conscious act.

“There is not always a simple ‘bad guy’. So when laws and guidelines only appeal to people who intentionally spread an outbreak, we are missing a large part of the picture. This study is a step towards realizing the immense consequences of accidental and unintentional behavior. „

De Dana

Lasă un răspuns

Adresa ta de email nu va fi publicată. Câmpurile obligatorii sunt marcate cu *