'Nature' is Not Guilty: Foodborne Illness and the Industrial Bagged Salad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Increasing incidents of widespread foodborne illness continue to highlight problems with industrialised food production. These problems emerge as a result of complicated interactions between humans and non-humans in food production networks. This article combines actor-network theory and political economy to critically examine foodborne illness, focusing on outbreaks related to industrially produced bagged salads from California. The article explores the evolution of the bagged salad, the emergence of Escherichia coli O157:H7, how E. coli O157:H7 enters the salad production network and the responses of industrial actors. While many continue to blame external nature for foodborne illness, doing so overlooks the fact that outbreaks are co-produced by humans and non-humans. Profit-driven industrial production designs play an important role in the emergence and spread of pathogens. While efforts to address outbreaks focus on controlling non-humans and adopting new technological fixes, effectively minimising foodborne illness may require a reevaluation of high-volume and centralised production systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)158-174
Number of pages17
JournalSociologia Ruralis
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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