Danes may perceive food that spoils faster as being more natural, according to a new sociological study by the University of Copenhagen (UCPH).

The study observes a shift in attitudes about what characterizes “clean” foods over the past 40 to 50 years, which now favor naturality over sterility. 

“We found that there were striking similarities in the way ‘naturalness’ was important for people’s assessments of food and dietary supplements across these studies. Much of what was once considered impure, such as soil, mold, bacteria and dust, is now seen as pure because it can signal naturalness – particularly when compared to overly sterile foods” Kia Ditlevsen, associate professor of UCPH’s department of food and resource economics tells FoodIngredientsFirst.

The analysis of two qualitative studies was done by Ditlevsen and her colleague Sidse Schoubye Andersen. The studies interviewed 69 Danes, showing that respondents were suspicious of foods treated to guarantee lengthy shelf lives. 

In the past, food safety concerns were more widespread. Consequently, there was a perception that the greater the sterility, the better the quality, note the researchers. 

By contrast, Danes in the study viewed a pesticide-sprayed and preservative-coated apple that never perishes as less desirable than one that spoils.  

“What is objectively referred to as dirty is less frightening to us than apples which never rot. Similarly, having dirt under one’s nails has become a sign of health,” she says.

She continues: “The presence of soil was completely unthinkable in the understanding of ‘clean’ foods as many people feared bacteria and microorganisms at the time.”
“We are wild about the naturalness and visibility of what a product contains,” says adds. 
To illustrate the trend, Ditlevsen refers to a Burger King advertisement from February:
“Many people associate Burger King with products that may not be quite all-natural, but do last a long time. To shift this perception, the fast food chain released large advertising banners with a picture of a moldy Whopper, their signature burger.”
Thus, the use of ingredients without unnecessary preservatives has become a branding strategy.
Full story: https://www.foodingredientsfirst.com/news/food-that-molds-is-a-sign-of-naturalness-says-university-of-copenhagen-study.html