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Injustice in Food-Related Public Health Problems: A Matter of Corporate Responsibility

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 February 2020

Tjidde Tempels
Radboud University Wageningen University
Vincent Blok
Wageningen University
Marcel Verweij
Wageningen University


The responsibility of the food and beverage industry for noncommunicable diseases is a controversial topic. Public health scholars identify the food and beverage industry as one of the main contributors to the rise of these diseases. We argue that aside from moral duties like not doing harm and respecting consumer autonomy, the food industry also has a responsibility for addressing the structural injustices involved in food-related health problems. Drawing on the work of Iris Marion Young, this article first shows how food-related public health problems can be understood as structural injustices. Second, it makes clear how the industry is sustaining these health injustices, and that due to this connection, corporate actors share responsibility for addressing food-related health problems. Finally, three criteria (capacity, benefit, and vulnerability) are discussed as grounds for attributing responsibility, allowing for further specification on what taking responsibility for food-related health problems can entail in corporate practice.

© 2020 Business Ethics Quarterly

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