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  • Americans Are More Realistic About the Quality of Their Diets

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2010

    Presumably, Americans are more realistic today about their diet quality because they have greater knowledge of what constitutes a healthy diet. In 2005-06, 79 percent of U.S. adults had heard of the Food Guide Pyramid, up from 33 percent in 1994, and 51 percent knew about the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, up from 30 percent in 1994.

  • Americans’ Food Choices at Home and Away: How Do They Compare With Recommendations?

    Amber Waves, February 21, 2013

    In grocery stores, Americans underspend on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and overspend on refined grains, fats, and sugars/sweets, compared with dietary guidance Away-from-home foods are even less consistent with dietary guidance.

  • An Assessment of Product Turnover in the U.S. Food Industry and Effects on Nutrient Content

    EIB-183, November 20, 2017

    ERS researchers assess U.S. food products’ marketplace entry and exit rates in 2008-12 and break down these changes across food categories. They also examine some of the implications product turnover may hold for nutritional content.

  • Bacterial Foodborne Disease: Medical Costs and Productivity Losses

    AER-741, August 01, 1996

    Microbial pathogens in food cause an estimated 6.5-33 million cases of human illness and up to 9,000 deaths in the United States each year. Over 40 different foodborne microbial pathogens, including fungi, viruses, parasites, and bacteria, are believed to cause human illnesses. For six bacterial pathogens, the costs of human illness are estimated to be $9.3-$12.9 billion annually. Of these costs, $2.9-$6.7 billion are attributed to foodborne bacteria. These estimates were developed to provide analytical support for USDA's Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems rule for meat and poultry. (Note that the parasite Toxoplasma gondii is not included in this report.) To estimate medical costs and productivity losses, ERS uses four severity categories for acute illnesses: those who did not visit a physician, visited a physician, were hospitalized, or died prematurely. The lifetime consequences of chronic disease are included in the cost estimates for E. coli O157:H7 and fetal listeriosis.

  • Beyond Nutrition and Organic Labels—30 Years of Experience With Intervening in Food Labels

    ERR-239, November 17, 2017

    ERS researchers examine five food label case studies that show the economic effects and tradeoffs involved in setting product standards, verifying claims, and enforcing truthfulness.

  • Calorie Labeling on Restaurant Menus—Who Is Likely to Use It?

    Amber Waves, September 08, 2014

    Consumers who value health are more likely to use nutrition information when eating out. Those who engage in healthy eating behaviors at home—such as consulting Nutrition Facts labels on grocery store foods or keeping dark green vegetables in their refrigerators, freezers, or pantry shelves—are more likely to use nutrition information when eating out.

  • Can Food Stamps Do More To Improve Food Choices? An Economic Perspective

    EIB-29, September 27, 2007

    Eight economic information bulletins compile evidence to address the question of whether the Food Stamp Program could do more to encourage healthful food choices.

  • Can Food Stamps Do More to Improve Food Choices? An Economic Perspective-Making Healthy Food Choices Easier: Ideas From Behavioral Economics

    EIB-29-7, September 27, 2007

    With obesity the most prevalent nutrition problem facing Americans at all economic levels, promoting diets that provide adequate nutrition without too many calories has become an important objective for the Food Stamp Program. Findings from behavioral economics suggest innovative, low-cost ways to improve the diet quality of food stamp participants without restricting their freedom of choice. Unlike more traditional economic interventions, such as changing prices or banning specific foods, the strategies explored in this brief can be targeted to those participants who want help making more healthful food choices.

  • Can Food Stamps Do More to Improve Food Choices? An Economic Perspective—Nutrition Information: Can It Improve the Diets of Low-Income Households?

    EIB-29-6, September 03, 2007

    The Food Stamp Nutrition Education (FSNE) component of the Food Stamp Program is intended to improve the food choices, diet quality, and health of program participants. This brief discusses the FSNE program, how it operates, and how it has grown over time. The brief also considers the challenges of nutrition education in general and discusses the research and evaluation needs suggested by the findings.

  • Changes in Eating Patterns and Diet Quality Among Working-Age Adults, 2005-2010

    ERR-161, January 16, 2014

    Survey data show diet quality improvements from 2005 to 2010 among working-age adults, with changes in intake of calories, saturated fat, cholesterol, and fiber, and fewer meals outside the home.

  • Changing Structure of Global Food Consumption and Trade

    WRS-01-1, May 30, 2001

    Higher income, urbanization, other demographic shifts, improved transportation, and consumer perceptions regarding quality and safety are changing global food consumption patterns. Shifts in food consumption have led to increased trade and changes in the composition of world agricultural trade. Given different diets, food expenditure and food budget responses to income and price changes vary between developing and developed countries. In developing countries, higher income results in increased demand for meat products, often leading to increased import of live-stock feed. Diet diversification and increasing demand for better quality and labor-saving products have increased imports of high-value and processed food products in developed countries. Consumer groups in developed countries have also brought attention to organic production of food and the topic of animal welfare. One way in which the public and private sectors have responded to consumer demand for these quality attributes has been by developing and implementing mandatory and voluntary quality control, management, and assurance schemes.

  • Community Food Security Assessment Toolkit

    EFAN-02013, July 01, 2002

    This report provides a toolkit of standardized measurement tools for assessing various aspects of community food security. It includes a general guide to community assessment and focused materials for examining six basic assessment components related to community food security. These include guides for profiling general community characteristics and community food resources as well as materials for assessing household food security, food resource accessibility, food availability and affordability, and community food production resources. Data collection tools include secondary data sources, focus group guides, and a food store survey instrument. The toolkit was developed through a collaborative process that was initiated at the community Food Security Assessment Conference sponsored by ERS in June 1999. It is designed for use by community-based nonprofit organizations and business groups, local government officials, private citizens, and community planners.

  • Comparing National Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey (FoodAPS) Data With Other National Food Surveys’ Data

    EIB-157, July 27, 2016

    Data from USDA's National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey (FoodAPS), the first nationally representative household survey to collect data on foods purchased or acquired during a survey week, are compared with data from other national-level, food-related surveys.

  • Consumer Use of Information: Implications for Food Policy

    AH-715, July 01, 1999

    Government programs that are designed to improve health by changing diets focus on information: education, public information campaigns, and regulation of advertising and labeling. Research from several social science disciplines offers insights for public dissemination and regulation of nutrition information. A review of selected literature in economics, nutrition education, and marketing highlights several research themes. These are the need to motivate consumers to use nutrition information, the value consumers place on time, the possibility that information can change the effects of income on food choices, and the value of enhanced life and health from improved nutrition.

  • Consumers and the Future of Biotech Foods in the United States

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2003

    When consumers are made aware that food products are biotech, how will they react? As the largest market for U.S. producers, American consumers will render the ultimate verdict on the future of agricultural biotechnology in the United States.

  • Consumers' Use of Nutrition Information When Eating Out

    EIB-127, June 27, 2014

    The Affordable Care Act will require posted nutrition information in many eating venues. ERS examines demographic traits and dietary habits of U.S. consumers of away-from-home food, establishing a baseline before the law is implemented.

  • Country-of-Origin Labeling: Theory and Observation

    WRS-0402, January 23, 2004

    This report examines the economic rationale behind the various claims about the effects of mandatory country-of-origin labeling, thereby identifying the most likely outcomes. Profits motivate firms to innovate and introduce thousands of new food products each year to satisfy consumers' demand. Yet, food suppliers have generally not emphasized, advertised, or labeled food with U.S. country of origin. The infrequency of "Made in USA" labels on food suggests suppliers do not believe domestic origin is an attribute that can attract much consumer interest. We find little evidence that suppliers would have difficulty supplying such labels if there were sufficient consumer interest.

  • Current Issues in Economics of Food Markets

    AIB-747, August 13, 2004

    These reports synthesize economic analyses of the complex relationships in food markets of interest to officials responsible for public policy, decisionmakers in the industry, and researchers. Topics addressed so far include the economizing practices of low-income households in making food purchases, the increasing vertical coordination and integration of the industry, the link between consolidation of retailers and orange juice prices, the effects of a higher minimum wage on food prices, how taxes affect food markets, and lessons learned from the use of rbST in dairy production.

  • Dairy Policies in Japan

    LDPM-134-01, August 24, 2005

    This report provides a detailed description and analysis of Japan's policies that support its milk producers and regulate dairy markets. Domestic supply controls boost the milk price, and government subsidies for producing manufacturing milk, for environmental improvements, and for hazard insurance provide additional support to farms. Regulations about milk labeling have affected milk powder use. At the border, tariff-rate quotas offer limited opportunities to private firms within the quota amounts, and impose very high tariffs on imports of dairy products outside the quota. If Japan's policies were liberalized, prices and production in Japan would fall, but sizable milk production would remain.

  • Do Food Labels Make a Difference?...Sometimes

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2007

    The economics behind food labeling provides insight into the dynamics of voluntary and mandatory food labeling and the influence labeling has on consumers' food choices.