This page provides references to ERS publications and journal
Food Safety Audits,
Plant Characteristics, and Food Safety Technology Use in Meat and
Poultry Plants--This report documents the extent of food safety
audits in meat and poultry processing plants (October 2011).
The Interplay of
Regulation and Marketing Incentives in Providing Food
Safety--This report examines the effects of mandatory process
regulations and management-determined actions on
Salmonella species under the Pathogen Reduction/Hazard
Analysis and Critical Control Point (PR/HACCP) rule (July
Imports From China and
Food Safety Issues--The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's
(FDA) increased attention to food imports from China is an
indicator of safety concerns, as food imports from China more than
tripled in value between 2001 and 2008. FDA import refusal data
highlight food safety problems that appear to recur in trade and
where FDA has focused its import alerts and monitoring efforts
Food Safety and
Imports: An Analysis of FDA Import Refusal Reports--ERS
examined U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) data on import
refusals of food into the United States from 1998 to 2004. Also see
an Amber Waves article based on this study, "Adulteration Accounts for Majority of FDA
Food-Related Import Refusals." (September 2008).
Outbreak Linked to Spinach Forces Reassessment of
Food Safety Practices--While the risk of contracting a
foodborne illness from eating spinach is low, spinach and leafy
greens have been associated with numerous outbreaks due to
contamination with E. coli O157:H7. The 2006 outbreak
linked to spinach forced the California spinach and the broader
leafy green industry to consider new approaches to food safety
Did BSE Announcements
Reduce Beef Purchases?--This study examines retail purchases of
beef and beef products to see if consumers responded to the 2003
U.S. government announcements that North American cows had been
infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). Food purchase
patterns following the BSE announcements varied across beef
products but were limited to no more than 2 weeks in all cases
Food Safety Improvements Underway in
China--Adverse publicity about contaminated food exports and
growing domestic concerns have prompted China to improve overall
food safety (November 2006).
Where Should the Money Go? Aligning Policies with
Preferences--Budget constraints force policymakers to choose
which programs to fund, even when human health and safety are at
risk. New Federal guidelines emphasize tallying health outcomes to
help decide among programs (June 2006).
New Pathogen Tests Trigger Food Safety
Innovations--Technological advances in the science of pathogen
testing are changing the economics of food safety. Information
provided by these tests has enabled the food industry to improve
food production systems and the safety of food (February 2006).
A set of papers in Choices explores the central role of information in food
safety decisionmaking. The interrelationship between regulations
and markets in creating economic incentives to control foodborne
pathogens is investigated. The papers examine the economic impact
of mandated restaurant hygiene grade cards, food safety
innovations, BSE in the United States, supply chain contracts, and
co-regulation in the United Kingdom (2nd Quarter 2005).
The Economics of Food Safety: The Case of Green
Onions and Hepatitis A Outbreaks--Using the example of
hepatitis A outbreaks in the United States associated with green
onions from Mexico, this report examines the economics of food
safety. It reviews the incentives to adopt additional food safety
practices and the economic impact of an outbreak on green onion
growers in Mexico (December 2004).
Meat and Poultry
Plants' Food Safety Investments: Survey Findings--Results from
the first national survey of the types and amounts of food safety
investments made by meat and poultry slaughter and processing
plants since the late 1990s provide evidence that market forces
have worked in conjunction with regulation to promote the use of
more sophisticated food safety technologies. From 1996 through
2000, U.S. plants as a group spent about $380 million annually and
made $570 million in long-term investments to comply with USDA's
1996 pathogen reduction/hazard analysis critical control point
(PR/HACCP) regulation (May 2004).
Innovation in the United States: Evidence from the Meat
Industry--Recent industry innovations improving the safety of
the Nation's meat supply range from new pathogen tests, high-tech
equipment, and supply chain management systems, to new surveillance
networks. Despite these and other improvements, the market
incentives that motivate private firms to invest in innovation seem
to be fairly weak. Results from an ERS survey of U.S. meat and
poultry slaughter and processing plants and two case studies of
innovation in the U.S. beef industry reveal that the industry has
developed a number of mechanisms to overcome that weakness and to
stimulate investment in food safety innovation. The report's
findings are summarized in a two-page Research Brief and a
related Amber Waves article, Savvy Buyers Spur Food Safety Innovations in Meat
Processing (April 2004).
Traceability in the U.S. Food Supply: Economic
Theory and Industry Studies--This report describes the results
of an investigation into the amount, type, and adequacy of
traceability systems in the United States, focusing on the
fresh-produce, grains-and-oilseeds, and cattle/beef sectors.
Research is based on market studies literature, interviews with
industry experts, and on-site interviews with owners, plant
supervisors, and/or quality control managers in fruit and vegetable
packing and processing plants; beef slaughter plants; grain
elevators, mills, and food manufacturing plants; and food
distribution centers (March 2004).
Response to U.S. Foodborne Illness Outbreaks
Associated with Imported Produce-- International Trade and
Food Safety: Economic Theory and Case Studies. This report
examines how U.S. and other nations responded to foodborne illness
outbreaks traced to internationally-traded food (February
Managing for Safer Food: The Economics of
Sanitation and Process Controls in Meat and Poultry
Plants--This study evaluates the costs of sanitation and
process control (as required by the Pathogen Reduction/Hazard
Analysis and Critical Control Point (PR/HACCP) rule of 1996) in
producing meat and poultry. Weighing Incentives for Food Safety in Meat and
Poultry, in the April 2003 issue of Amber Waves
highlights these findings, showing how more stringent regulation
and changes in the marketplace have improved food safety, despite
the rise in meat and poultry recalls (April 2003).
and Microbial Foodborne Illness--This report examines how
product liability law treats personal injuries attributed to
microbially contaminated foods. The risk of lawsuits and the
resulting court-awarded compensation may create economic incentives
for firms to produce safer food (May 2001).
Restaurants are the chief target of foodborne
illness lawsuits--Nearly a third of foodborne-illness lawsuits
tracked by ERS from 1988-97 targeted restaurants as the source of
the food contamination. The median award to winning plaintiffs was
$25,560, while a few much higher awards raised the mean to $133,280
(in 1998 dollars) (May 2001).
Economic Assessment of Food Safety Regulations:
The New Approach to Meat and Poultry Inspection--This
benefit/cost evaluation of reducing foodborne illness by requiring
meat and poultry plants to use hazard analysis and critical control
points (HACCP) systems finds that the benefits of HACCP outweigh
its costs by a substantial margin (July 1997).
Tracking Foodborne Pathogens from Farm to Table:
Data Needs to Evaluate Control Options--Proceedings from the
January 9-10, 1995 conference in Washington, DC, held by members of
Regional Research Project NE-165, a group of more than 70
economists at landgrant universities and government agencies
conducting research on the food system. Topics included human
foodborne disease, susceptibility, and food consumption data;
tracking foodborne pathogen data from farm to retail; integrating
data for risk management; and a policy roundtable discussion about
how food safety data and analysis can help in program and policy
design (December 1995).
Ollinger, Michael. "Structural change in the meat and poultry
industry and food safety regulations." Agribusiness,
Buzby, Jean C. "Nanotechnology for Food Applications: More
Questions than Answers." The Journal of Consumer
Affairs, 44 (3):528-545 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1745-6606.2010.01182.x/full
Ollinger, Michael and Danna Moore. "The Direct and Indirect
Costs of Food Safety Regulation." Review of Agricultural
Economics 31 (2):247-65 (Summer 2009).
Nguyen, Sang and Michael Ollinger. "Mergers and Acquisitions,
Employment, Wages and Plant Closures in the U.S. Meat Product
Industries." Agribusiness: An International Journal
70(1):70-89 (Winter 2009).
Ollinger, Michael, and Danna L. Moore. "The Economic Forces
Driving Food Safety Quality in Meat and Poultry," Review of
Agricultural Economics 30 (2):289-310 (Summer 2008).
Nguyen, Sang and Michael Ollinger. "Mergers and Acquisitions and
Productivity in the U.S. Meat Products Industries: Evidence from
Microdata," American Journal of Agricultural
Economics 88(3):606-16 (August 2006).
Buzby, Jean C. and Lorraine Mitchell. "Private, National, and
International Standards Raise the Bar for Food Safety," Journal
of Food Distribution Research, 37 (1):1-6 (March 2006).
Roberts, Tanya, Scott A. Malcolm, and Clare A. Narrod.
"Probabilistic Risk Assessment and Slaughterhouse Practices:
Modelling Contamination Process Control in Beef Destined for
Hamburger," Probabilistic Safety Assessment PSA '99:
Risk-Informed Performance-Based Regulation in the New
Millennium, Mohammad Modarres, ed., pp. 809-815 (1999).