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Xaq Frohlich

Xaq Frohlich

Associate Professor


Xaq Frohlich

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PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

BA, University of Texas at Austin

About Me

Xaq Frohlich joined Auburn University’s Department of History in the fall of 2017. His research focuses on the historical intersections of science, law, and markets, and how the three have shaped our modern, everyday understanding of food, risk, and responsibility. His work explores questions relating to consumerism and the changing relationships between the state, experts, and the public in the production of everyday knowledge: how do we “know” what we know about food and its relation to health? In what ways has our informational environment for food changed with the industrialization of food production and retailing?

Frohlich's book, From Label to Table: Regulating Food in America in the Information Age (University of California Press, 2023), tells a biography of the food label. By tracing policy debates at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it describes the emergence of our present Information Age in food and diet markets and how powerful government offices inform the public about what they consume. From the early years of FDA food standards, with concerns about consumer protection, up to present-day efforts to modernize the Nutrition Facts panel, From Label to Table explores the evolving popular ideas about food, diet and responsibility for health that inform what goes on the label and who gets to decide that.

Frohlich earned his PhD in history, anthropology, and STS at MIT in 2011. He was a 2016–17 visiting fellow at the Institute for Historical Studies in the Department of History at the University of Texas at Austin, a Fulbright scholar in Spain, a visiting professor at the University of Vienna and Paris Dauphine University, and a postdoc at KAIST in South Korea. He teaches the Technology & Civilizations I & II core sequence and also teaches courses on food and power, the intersections of science, technology and the law, and the history of business and capitalism.

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Research Interests

food and culture; science & technology studies; 20th-century U.S. politics; law & society; history of technology



Articles, Essays, and Chapters

  • “Making Food Standard: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Food Standards of Identity, 1930s to 1960s,” Business History Review, Vol. 96, Iss. 1 (Mar. 2022): 145-176.
“Informationism in Food Politics: How the U.S. Food and Drug Administration came to regulate food through informative labeling” in A. Bryce Hoflund, John C. Jones, & Michelle C. Pautz (eds.), Administering and Managing the U.S. Food System: Revisiting Food Policy and Politics 
(Rowman & Littlefield/Lexington Books, 2021), pp. 131-146.

  • “The Rise (and Fall) of the Food-Drug Line: Classification, Gatekeepers, and Spatial Mediation in Regulating U.S. Food and Health Markets,” in Angela N. H. Creager & Jean-Paul Gaudillière (Eds.), Risk on the Table: Food Production, Health, and the Environment (Berghahn Books, 2021), pp. 297-329.
  • “The informational turn in food politics: The U.S. FDA’s nutrition label as information infrastructure,” Social Studies of Science, Vol. 47, Iss. 2 (Apr. 2017): 145-171.
  • “Accounting for Taste: Regulating Food Labeling in the ‘Affluent Society,’ 1945-1995,” Enterprise & Society Vol. 13, No. 4 (December 2012): 744-761.
  • “Imaginer des consommateurs, constituer les sujets: l’etiquetage nutritionnel aux États-Unis, 1945–1995,” Sciences de la Société, nº 80 (mai 2010): 11-27.
  • “Buyer be-aware: The ethics of food labelling reform and ‘mobilizing the food consumer’,” in Global food security: ethical and legal challenges, eds. Carlos M. Romeo Casabona, Leire Escajedo San Epifanio and Aitziber Emaldi Cirión (Wageningen Acad. Pub., 2010), 221-227.

Other Publications

  •  “코로나19 팬데믹은 중국 야생동물 시장 탓일까?” [Transl.: “Could the COVID-19 pandemic 
be attributed to Chinese wildlife markets?”] Magazine Epi Vol. 13 (Fall 2020): 34-48.
  • “게맛살, 마가린, 올리브유: 가짜 식품은 나쁜 음식인가?” [Transl.: “Crab Surimi, Margarine, and Olive Oil: Is Fake Food Bad Food?”] Magazine Epi Vol. 1 (Sept. 2017): 140-149.
  • “Tsukiji on the Verge of Change,” Food+City Magazine, Issue 2 (Feb. 2017): 30-39.
  • “Labels for Life” Limn Magazine No. 4, “Food Infrastructures” (Spring 2014): 42-45.
  • “What’s the Beef with Horsemeat?,” Risk & Regulation Magazine No. 25 (Spring 2013): 20-21.

Courses Taught

  • HIST 1210: Technology and Civilization I
  • HIST 1220: Technology and Civilization II
  • HIST 3540: Special Topics: Science, Technology and 'the Law'
  • HIST 3590: Food and Power
  • HIST 7510: Introduction to the Historiography of Technology
  • HIST 7970: Special Topics: History of Business, Markets and Capitalism