Bias in Food Analysis: Implications and Instances


The term bias can generally be described as unfair and preconceived tendency, opinion or idea towards one’s beliefs . Bias is usually a pre-considered and unreasonable antagonistic frame of mind and opinions towards some groups, individuals, and ideas. Bias lacks neutrality and open-mindedness in viewing different things. The bias outlook is mostly accompanied by the adamant behavior of not being free to consider alternative courses of action and ideas that may be far much better than the course of action that is being preferred. In most cases, individuals develop biases against other people due to their ethnic group, nation, region political party, social class, etc. In science and engineering, bias designates a methodical inaccuracy. In other words, a methodical erroneousness is a one-sided sample selection or an approximation procedure that does not provide perfect regular outcomes. The purpose of the paper is to discuss bias in food analysis and its effects.


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Bias in Food Analysis

Food analysis is a study that encompasses the application, analysis and improvement of the food diagnostic processes of classifying different foods and their contents (Carpenter, Lyon & Hasdell, 2012). The diagnostic methods help in availing knowledge and information regarding various food features, i.e. their configuration, structure, visual aspects, and other physiochemical characteristics. All the necessary information regarding food is essential to food analysts and nutritionists so as to enable them to provide safe food for human consumption to avoid any eventualities (Carpenter et al., 2012). Foods are analyzed by the qualified scientists who work in different food industry departments such as food manufacturing firms, university exploration labs, government research laboratories, ingredient suppliers, etc.

Bias in food analysis is a systematical error that the food analysts make in giving directions on the packages of different foods (Pomeranz, 2013). Bias in food analysis falls under the experimenter bias. The experimenter bias takes place when the pseudoscientist anticipations concerning a particular exploration come out with bias in the investigation results. The experimenter science encompasses intentional or unintentional consequences on the research variable that will, in turn, impact the demand patterns of the analysis report that will highly affect the users of the research findings in their selection and decision-making process (Carpenter et al., 2012). Many food and nutrition companies sometimes provide misleading information that will only benefit them in augmenting their sales and revenues through attracting many misled customers. They provide information that the customers want to hear and not the material information, hence end up being biased (Pomeranz, 2013).

Impacts of Bias in Food Analysis

Biased food analysis originating from food manufacturers, ingredient suppliers analytical service labs, etc. has become rampant in the recent past so as to attract more customers hence to make them the market leaders and help to defeat their competitors. Biases in food analysis have adverse impacts on the public and the government in the following ways:

Violation of government regulations. The government creates the rules, regulations, guidelines and commendations that are intended to uphold the overall food quality supply to ensure that the food industry offers consumers wholesome and safe food to consume (Pomeranz, 2013). The food analysts are supposed to educate the consumers about the nutritional composition of all the foods so that they can make deliberated decisions concerning their diet. Biased food analysis violates these guidelines and misleads the consumers; hence customers do not get what they want (Grunert, Hieke & Wills, 2014). Biased food reports violate the mandatory government standards (such as the identity and quality standards), and the voluntary standards such as grade standards (Carpenter et al., 2012).

Customer dissatisfaction. Customer dissatisfaction happens due to the wrong nutritional labeling; it is mandatory for almost all foods to be labeled as directed by the government (Grunert et al., 2014). Food labeling enables consumers to make deliberated decisions while their selection process, hence select the best foods that work with them (Pomeranz, 2013). Biased food analysis makes it easier for the customers to pick their foodstuffs according to the labels, but in the real sense the labels regarding aspects such as total fat, cholesterol, iron, calcium, calories, etc. may not be accurate as indicated on the labels, hence the customer will not satisfy his/her demand because of the biased information (Pomeranz, 2013).

Lack of authenticity. Some products’ prices are set based on the quality of ingredients they contain, for instance, a packet of premium coffee may be labeled that it is manufactured with the coffee beans from Columbia so as to attract higher prices than its contenders (Pomeranz, 2013). In the real sense, the coffee manufacturers may have used coffee from elsewhere and decided to be biased so as to attract customers with biased labels thus making more sales that will generate more revenues (Grunert et al., 2014). These analysts may avoid the fraud since it is difficult for customers to expose them. The customers are the financial fraud victims while the manufacturers are enjoying their profits.

Research and development hindrance. In the contemporary world, the consumer preferences keep changing now and then. Consumers need healthier foods that are of high quality, diminished costs and more glamorous (Carpenter et al., 2012). For food manufacturers to keep up with the changing consumer needs, these manufacturers should hire food analysts to come up with new products, shrink production costs, and improve the existing products match the users need (Grunert et al., 2014). Biased food analysts will not incur the research and development costs but will wait for their competitors to carry out the research and then copy their ideas, modify them a little and change the packaging and labeling of the product and then it will look as good as new to the market (Pomeranz, 2013).

Poor food inspection and grading. The government has the food assessment and ranking department that regularly examines different aspects of food to make sure they adhere to the government set rules and regulations (Carpenter et al., 2012). The critical area in the inspection and grading of foods is the accuracy of the food measurements and the utilization of conventional measuring methods (Pomeranz, 2013). Food manufacturers may bribe food analysts to grade their products highly but in the actual sense, indicate that the products do not contain the components it should contain hence being biased. Other food analysts will use the cheap, unauthorized analytical methods of inspecting and grading of food thus coming up with biased analytical reports (Carpenter et al., 2012).

Examples of Bias in Food Analysis

The McGovern Report is the tale behind the first US dietary commendations (Greger, 2014). The report was developed by George McGovern when he said that people’s diet is as threatening as smoking to people’s health, and so they should change their diets and eat healthily (Greger, 2014). McGovern further pointed that meat, sugar, salt and cholesterol should be avoided for health living. The egg, milk, and meat producers and the president of the International Sugar Research reacted saying that the McGovern Report was unsuccessful and misguided (Greger, 2014). The report also pointed out that the improved nutrition bill will bring down the country’s healthiness bill by one-third. The affected suppliers were quick to say that health expenses are augmented by the extended lifespans. They also added that meat, salt, milk, etc. are important human consumptions, and so the dietary report should be ignored and a corrected one to be released (Greger, 2014). The president of the National Livestock Board added that he believed that the animal industries are to ensure that the Americans are well fed with plentiful meat and other animal nutrients make a decent and proper diet course. A new report was released but still the meat industry did not like it and it (meat industry) wanted the nutrition committee to be eliminated altogether.

Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet (BOLD): Beef Lowers Cholesterol. The beef industry conducted a study that was intended to show that a diet comprising of meat was capable of diminishing cholesterol if an individual reduces the intake of poultry, cheese, pork, and fish to half of the individuals summated saturated fat consumption (Greger, 2014). The study concluded that the inclusion of lean beef in the diet helps to reduce cardiovascular ailment threats.  For one to perfectly do away with heart attacks, he/she should cut down cholesterol to 50, 60, or 70% (Greger, 2014). Some people felt that this report was misleading since people with heart conditions are advised to eliminate animal fat and cholesterol consumption entirely, thus how could beef consumption reduce cholesterol?

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Bias in food analysis happens when the analysts do not conduct the analysis as it should be done, withhold some information that should be disclosed to the public, and grade the foods inappropriately using unofficial techniques, etc. Biased food analysis often misguides customers’ decision-making process and the selection of the products they want for their diet. Biased food analysis has major impacts on both the public and the government as showed by McGovern report and The Beef Lowers Cholesterol study.

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