This book explores the new applications of established theories or adapts theoretical approaches in order to illuminate behaviour in the field of food. It focuses on social processes at the downstream end of the food chain, processes of distribution and consumption. The book reviews the existing disciplinary approaches to understanding judgements about food taste. It suggests that the quality 'halal' is the result of a social and economic consensus between the different generations and cultures of migrant Muslims as distinct from the non-Muslim majority. Food quality is to be viewed in terms of emergent cognitive paradigms sustained within food product networks that encompass a wide range of social actors with a wide variety of intermediaries, professional and governmental. The creation of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) occurred at a juncture when perceptions of policy failure were acknowledged at United Kingdom and European Union governmental levels. The book presents a case study of retailer-led food governance in the UK to examine how different 'quality logics' actually collide in the competitive world of food consumption and production. It argues that concerns around food safety were provoked by the emergence of a new food aesthetic based on 'relationalism' and 'embeddedness'. The book also argues that the study of the arguments and discourses deployed to criticise or otherwise qualify consumption is important to the political morality of consumption.
The research for this book was possible thanks to the generous funding of the Wellcome Trust. It forms part of the Wellcome Investigator Award ‘Placing the Public in Public Health: Public Health in Britain, 1948–2010’ (grant number WT-100586-Z-12-Z). The work was completed at the Centre for History in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. I am grateful to the staff at The National Archives, Coventry History Centre at the Herbert Museum and the various digital curators and platform providers for providing access to the material which forms the core of this research. Special thanks are also due to the Wellcome Library for granting permission to reproduce Figure 1.1 from its digitised collection of London Pulse Medical Officer of Health reports. At Manchester University Press, I particularly want to thank Tom Dark for his encouragement and swift replies to garbled emails and Keir Waddington, editor of the Social History of Medicine Series, for his feedback, help and thorough comments.
I owe a huge debt to Alex Mold, the principal investigator on the Wellcome award, my boss and mentor over the three years of my Research Fellowship at the School. She has made sure that I have stayed on course with the research, made my writing more readable and helped guide my career. If this book is useful to anyone it is because of her; and if not, the fault lies with me, the author. I must also thank Martin Moore and Harriet Palfreyman, who have read through countless drafts of this manuscript and offered constructive advice and criticism throughout. They have challenged my assertions and clarified my thinking. I have come to learn that no amount of praise is ever good enough for them. Daisy Payling, Peder Clark and Hannah Elizabeth, my colleagues on ‘Placing the Public’ have been excellent co-workers, sounding boards and friends over the years. All have helped me to ask new questions of my material, especially Hannah and the work we have done together on the history of emotion within the 1950s polio vaccination programme.
I joined the Centre for History in Public Health as a PhD student in 2009. It has been an uncommonly supportive environment in which to work and study. I must pay particular thanks to my PhD supervisor, Martin Gorsky, who has continued to be a mentor; and the outgoing head of the centre, Virginia Berridge. Ingrid James has been a superb administrator, without whom I am sure I could not have got through the past eight years. Christopher Sirrs and Tim Crocker-Bruque have given useful notes on drafts of work related to this project, for which I am grateful. Thanks too to Stuart Anderson, Hayley Brown, Angela Grainger, Anne Hardy, John Manton, Susanne McGregor, Jane Seymour, Ros Stanwell-Smith, Sue Taylor, Jenny Walke, Mateusz Zatonski and all members past and present for making the Centre a vibrant place to do research.
Claire Frankland, Victoria Cranna, Dolly Padalia and Lisa Heiler were incredibly supportive in the organisation of an exhibition at the School in 2015 which sparked a number of ideas and allowed me to make a number of contacts. So too were Tracy Chantler and Pauline Paterson with a series of symposiums. I am grateful for the time, resources and encouragement of Heidi Larson at the School and Jo Yarwood at Public Health England, whose wealth of experience made the writing of the later chapters much easier and more rewarding. I must also thank Ian Milligan and Niels Brügger for encouraging my work on the Internet Archive and commissioning a book chapter from me which fed directly into the research in Chapter 5. Jane Winters, Richard Deswarte and Peter Webster must also take credit. As I now move on to a new project with the Wellcome Trust, I must also make special mention of Mathew Thomson and Roberta Bivins at the University of Warwick for their encouragement, reading of draft material and sponsoring my application for a post which started in September 2017. It took a lot of stress out of the final months of submitting and revising the manuscript, as did the support of my new colleagues Jenny Crane, Jane Hand, Natalie Jones and Jack Saunders.
I am grateful to the editors and anonymous reviewers at Social History of Medicine and Contemporary British History for accepting my articles on polio and pertussis vaccination controversies. These helped to formulate the arguments in chapters 3 and 4 of this volume. Thanks also to the attendees and organisers of the Modern British Studies conferences in Birmingham (2015 and 2017), the Society for the Social History of Medicine conference in Kent (2016), the European Association for the History of Medicine and Health conferences in Cologne (2015) and Budapest (2017), the Voluntary Action History Society seminar series and the University of Birmingham's medical history seminar series. Baptiste Baylac-Paouly was gracious enough to invite me to speak at the Société française d'histoire des sciences et des techniques conference in Strasbourg in 2017. The feedback on papers given at these has helped enormously.
Finally, I must thank my family. Mom, Dad and Aidan have always encouraged me to pursue this career; and without my wife, Emma, I would not even have been able to start down this path, let alone continue on it. But I must dedicate this book to my uncle Bruce. Although the polio vaccination was available at the time – and even though his older brothers and sister had been given it – Nan decided that Bruce did not need it. Bruce contracted polio. As a result, my parents ensured that I got as many vaccines as they could find. Writing this book has not only given me an insight into the effects of childhood disease long eradicated from Britain, it has made me appreciate how and why people might choose to vaccinate or not. I would like to think it has not just made me understand why my parents were so fearful that they had me vaccinated. It has given me some understanding of why Nan – like a number of parents in Walsall in the 1960s – did not vaccinate uncle Bruce.