Black boxing milk: Date labeling, quality and waste throughout the Norwegian milk chain
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionFood and Foodways. 2020, 28 (1), 22-42. 10.1080/07409710.2020.1718274
We confront the expiration date whenever we shop, eat or discard food. This label has changed our foodways in profound and unforeseen manners, on the one hand increasing food safety while on the other reducing our sensory ability to judge food, thus leading to an increase in food waste. Only by understanding how the quality and expiration date of a product are interrelated and co-constructed by different actors, technologies and practices throughout the food chain, might we gain a better understanding of the phenomenon and be able to find solutions to a growing food waste problem. Based on ethnographic research at different locations, I will open the black box of the date label to unravel its internal complexities. I will show how human and non-human actors are entangled and connected via the expiration date—on the one hand co-constructing the double black box that hides the properties of the product milk and on the other being strongly influenced by their own construction.