Publications

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  • Regulation, Market Signals, and the Provision of Food Safety in Meat and Poultry

    Amber Waves, May 26, 2017

    Public disclosure of information on food safety performance enables buyers to make more informed purchasing decisions regarding food safety, thereby signaling their demand for a higher level of food safety.

  • Public Disclosure of Tests for Salmonella: The Effects on Food Safety Performance in Chicken Slaughter Establishments

    ERR-231, May 26, 2017

    ERS analyzed the impact of a USDA regulatory initiative that identified commercial chicken slaughter establishments with poor or mediocre ratings on Salmonella tests – specifically, how this has affected the outcome of subsequent tests.

  • Schools Vary—And That Means Meal Costs Vary Too

    Amber Waves, December 07, 2015

    USDA provides meal reimbursements to local school food authorities participating in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program. ERS researchers found that per-meal costs were affected by the location of the school food authority, its size, and the balance between the number of lunches and breakfasts it served.

  • Economic Incentives to Supply Safe Chicken to the National School Lunch Program

    ERR-202, November 24, 2015

    Suppliers of raw chicken to the National School Lunch Program had modestly better food safety performance on Salmonella spp. tests than chicken slaughter establishments supplying the commercial market.

  • Economies of Scale, the Lunch-Breakfast Ratio, and the Cost of USDA School Breakfasts and Lunches

    ERR-196, November 05, 2015

    Most schools serve fewer breakfasts than lunches, raising per-breakfast costs. Costs drop as more meals are served, but the effect is stronger for breakfasts. Balance in number of breakfasts vs. lunches served also affects per-meal costs.

  • Strict Standards Nearly Eliminate Salmonella From Ground Beef Supplied to Schools

    Amber Waves, February 02, 2015

    Each year, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service provides about half of the ground beef served in the National School Lunch Program by purchasing raw and cooked ground beef products from U.S. meat producers. AMS’s stringent safety standards incentivize meat companies to reduce Salmonella levels in ground beef supplied to schools to near zero, a level lower than many commercial markets.

  • The Food Safety Performance of Ground Beef Suppliers to the National School Lunch Program

    ERR-180, December 22, 2014

    Overall, ERS found that on Salmonella spp tests, suppliers of ground beef to the National School Lunch Program equaled or surpassed the food safety performance of suppliers of ground beef to general commercial markets.

  • Nutrition Standards for Competitive Foods in Schools: Implications for Foodservice Revenues

    EIB-114, June 26, 2013

    Over half of secondary school students consume competitive foods on a typical day; most choices would not meet nutrition standards. Foodservices in affluent districts obtain more revenue from competitive foods.

  • Food Safety Audits, Plant Characteristics, and Food Safety Technology Use in Meat and Poultry Plants

    EIB-82, October 03, 2011

    ERS documents the extent of food safety audits in meat and poultry processing plants and examines the association between the use of audits and the plants' size, business structure, and application of food safety technology

  • Where Schools Are Located Affects Meal Costs

    Amber Waves, June 16, 2011

    An ERS analysis of school meal costs from a large, nationally representative sample reveals that the location of a school can affect its meal costs. Urban locations, for example, had lower per meal costs than rural and suburban locations.

  • School Foodservice Costs: Location Matters

    ERR-117, May 03, 2011

    Over 42 million meals-31.2 million lunches and 11 million breakfasts-were served on a typical school day in fiscal year 2009 to children through USDA's National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. School food authorities (SFAs) operate local school feeding programs and deliver the meals to the schools. SFAs must serve appealing, healthful meals while covering food, labor, and other operating costs, a challenge that may be more difficult for some SFAs than for others due to differences in costs per meal across locations. Analysis of data on school costs per meal from a large, nationally representative sample reveals that geographic variation is important. In the 2002-03 school year, SFAs in the Southwestern United States had, on average, consistently lower foodservice costs per meal than did SFAs in other regions. Urban locations had lower costs per meal than did their rural and suburban counterparts. Wage and benefit rates, food expenditures per meal, and SFA characteristics such as the mix of breakfasts and lunches served each contributed to the differences in foodservice costs per meal across locations. The importance of these factors varied by location.

  • For Most Meat and Poultry Plants, Federally Mandated Controls Are Just the Starting Point for Food Safety

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2010

    Most U.S. meat and poultry processors go beyond the requirements of Government-mandated food-safety controls and supplement these controls with their own standards. But for some meat and poultry plants, mandated controls are the only food safety actions.

  • The Interplay of Regulation and Marketing Incentives in Providing Food Safety

    ERR-75, July 10, 2009

    Both Government regulations and private-sector-determined actions have resulted in the current level of safety in meat and poultry products. Focusing on process control, ERS examines the relative contributions of regulations and management-determined initiatives.

  • Food Industry Mergers and Acquisitions Lead to Higher Labor Productivity

    ERR-27, October 23, 2006

    Processing plants in eight major food industries were highly productive before being acquired and they significantly improved their labor productivity afterward, Economic Research Service and U.S. Census Bureau researchers found in their analysis of Census data. The industries are meat packing, meat processing, poultry slaughtering and processing, cheese making, fluid milk processing, flour milling, feed processing, and oilseed crushing. The analysis suggests that mergers and acquisitions contributed to the general improvement in labor productivity from 1972-92, echoing an earlier ERS study. Labor productivity is defined as output per worker.

  • Do Food Industry Mergers and Acquisitions Affect Wages and Employment?

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2006

    ERS and Census Bureau researchers used statistical techniques to isolate the effects of mergers and acquisitions on wages and employment in nine food industries. Their research found that mergers and acquisitions were no more likely to lead to job cuts than other causes of restructuring. Mergers and acquisitions had a positive, but small, effect on wages in seven of the industries in the first study period, but no discernible effect in the second study period.

  • Effect of Food Industry Mergers and Acquisitions on Employment and Wages

    ERR-13, December 09, 2005

    Empirical analysis of mergers and acquisitions in eight important food industries suggests that workers in acquired plants realized modest increases in employment and wages relative to other workers. Results also show that mergers and acquisitions reduced the likelihood of plant closures while high relative labor costs encouraged plant shutdowns. These results differ from commonly held views that mergers and acquisitions lead to fewer jobs, wage cuts, and plant shutdowns.

  • Structural Change in the Meat, Poultry, Dairy, and Grain Processing Industries

    ERR-3, April 01, 2005

    Consolidation and structural changes in the food industry have had profound impacts on firms, employees, and communities in many parts of the United States. Over 1972-92, eight important food industries underwent a structural transformation in which the number of plants declined by about one-third and the number of employees needed to staff the remaining plants dropped by more than 100,000 (20 percent); the number of plants in one other industry also dropped, but that industry added jobs. Economists generally attribute structural changes such as these to rising or falling demand and shifts in technology.

  • Meat and Poultry Plants' Food Safety Investments: Survey Findings

    TB-1911, May 14, 2004

    A national survey of meat slaughter and processing plants indicates that market forces, in conjunction with regulation, have worked to promote the use of more sophisticated food safety technologies.

  • Food Safety Innovation in the United States: Evidence from the Meat Industry

    AER-831, April 01, 2004

    Recent industry innovations improving the safety of the Nation's meat supply include new pathogen tests, high-tech equipment, supply chain management systems, and surveillance networks.

  • Market Incentives Raise Food Safety Bar

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2004

    Slaughter and processing plants today are increasingly reacting to stringent requirements for pathogen control set out by large meat and poultry buyers. These buyers reward suppliers who meet the standards and punish those who do not, in effect raising the food safety bar.