Discussions about “disruptive” food controversies abound in popular and academic literatures, particularly with respect to meat production and consumption, yet there is little scholarship examining what makes an event disruptive in the first instance. Filling this gap will improve our understanding of how food controversies unfold and why certain issues may be more likely to linger in the public consciousness as opposed to others. I address these questions by using focus groups and in-depth interviews to analyze five potentially upsetting topics: dietary warnings about meat consumption, meat safety recalls, eating meat directly from the skull of the animal, the morality of killing animals for food, and the “pink slime” debate. Findings suggest that disruptive events involve negative affective reactions to safety hazards, disgust-provoking sensory cues, and/or ethical dilemmas. When these cues exist in isolation from one another, consumers’ reactions are quite often short-lived, while the simultaneous presence of multiple disruptive elements in the context of a single issue or event can trigger a far stronger reaction.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Chemistry
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Environmental Science(all)