Breaking taboos for sustainability

  • Madalena Vaz Pinto de Barros Gomes (Student)

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Food waste is a global problem that has been gaining significant importance because it contributes considerably to carbon foot print. One of the main actions responsible for food waste is the discarding of food by the consumer. Some of this discarded food is expired but perfect lyedible. The reasons for throwing the food away might be because the food is spoiled or just expired and people confuse “best before” and “use by” labels. Households might even feel disgusted towards the food. Little is known about disgust towards expired food and how to overcome it in order to reduce food waste. Therefore, the present research aims to understand how feelings of disgust associated to these taboo products can block consumers from making or supporting more sustainable alternatives. To this end, six hypotheses were elaborated and tested. The key findings show that affective and cognitive framings do not diminish the disgust towards expired food compared to the control framing. However, it was also found that consumers who trust in science tend to support policies that would increase the consumption of expired food. Science reliability turns to be a critical factor for a change in consumption patterns to a more sustainable way of life. Increasing science-related populist movements represent substantial threats for sustainability. For future research, social norms are discussed as an effective way of promoting consumption of expired food.
Date of Award28 Jan 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Universidade Católica Portuguesa
SupervisorCláudia Simão (Supervisor)


  • Food waste
  • Disgust
  • Best before
  • Use by
  • Expired products
  • Cognition
  • Emotion
  • Policies


  • Mestrado em Gestão e Administração de Empresas

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