Publications

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  • Adulteration Accounts for Majority of FDA Food-Related Import Refusals

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2009

    ERS researchers analyzed Food and Drug Administration (FDA) data on food import shipments that were refused entry into the U.S. during 1998-2004. Of the 70,369 import violations in 1998-2004, 65 percent were for adulteration, 33 percent for misbranding, and 2 percent were other violations, such as items forbidden or restricted in sale. The three imported food categories with the most violations were vegetable products, seafood products, and fruit products.

  • Although Small, Markets Have Been Expanding for GE Crops With Traits That Increase Nutrient Content or Improve Taste

    Amber Waves, August 07, 2017

    Genetically engineered (GE) crops are plants with genetic material that has been altered to achieve one or more desirable features. Although small, markets have been recently expanding for GE crops with traits that increase nutrient content or improve the taste of certain foods for consumers.

  • Americans' Eating Patterns and Time Spent on Food: The 2014 Eating & Health Module Data

    EIB-158, July 28, 2016

    ERS analyzed food and food-related time use patterns by factors such as income level and participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).

  • An Illustrated Guide to Research Findings from USDA's Economic Research Service

    EIB-48, April 01, 2009

    This book contains a sampling of recent ERS research illustrating the breadth of the Agency's research on current policy issues: from biofuels to food consumption to land conservation to patterns of trade for agricultural products.

  • An Online Cost Calculator for Estimating the Economic Cost of Illness Due to Shiga Toxin-Producing E. coli (STEC) O157 Infections

    EIB-28, September 13, 2007

    Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) O157 is a significant cause of foodborne illness in the United States. ERS estimated the economic cost of illness due to this pathogen-$405.2 million (in 2003 dollars)-using the most recent estimate (1997) of the annual number of STEC O157 cases by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and medical and cost data from the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network. CDC is currently updating its estimate of annual cases. As new information becomes available, the ERS online Foodborne Illness Cost Calculator enables users to review and modify the assumptions underlying the STEC O157 cost estimate, such as the number of cases, and then recalculate the cost, adjusted for inflation for any year from 1997 to 2006. The potential utility of the calculator was demonstrated by assuming that the incidence of STEC O157 had declined and then estimating the cost for a smaller number of cases.

  • 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.

  • Broiler Producers Search for Alternatives to Antibiotics

    Amber Waves, December 01, 2009

    Broiler producers who do not administer subtherapeutic antibiotics rely instead on a portfolio of other practices to prevent disease and promote growth in birds. Operations of producers who do not use STAs are characterized by more rigorous sanitation practices, improved ventilation for poultry housing, and more extensive testing for pathogens than farms of STA users.

  • 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.

  • China's Rising Fruit and Vegetable Exports Challenge U.S. Industries

    FTS-32001, February 14, 2006

    China has raised its profile in global fruit and vegetable markets, with the value of its exports during 2002-04 more than double the value from a decade earlier. Most of China's exports are processed fruits and vegetables that do not yet pose a serious challenge to U.S. exports. However, China's fresh vegetable sales to Japan and other Asian markets compete directly with U.S. products. In addition, the United States has been the largest market for China's apple juice exports. Over time, China's growing domestic market may absorb more of its production. Moreover, China faces stiff challenges in improving the quality and safety of its products, upgrading its marketing and distribution infrastructure, and reducing marketing costs.

  • Consumer Food Safety Behavior: A Case Study in Hamburger Cooking and Ordering

    AER-804, May 17, 2002

    This report examines changes in hamburger preparation behavior, the reasons for the changes, the medical costs saved as a result of the changes, and the implications for future food safety education.

  • Consumers Behaved Rationally, If Belatedly, After Food Safety Recalls in 2011 and 2012

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2016

    In response to two cantaloupe recalls, U.S. consumers reduced their purchases of cantaloupes when they thought the risk of eating cantaloupes might be fatal, but not when the threat was a less serious illness. This differentiated behavior indicates that—at least in these two food safety breaches—consumers treated bigger risks as bigger problems.

  • 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.

  • Data Feature

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2008

    Increased trade helps meet U.S. consumers’ growing demand for a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables throughout the year. ERS calculates that the import share of domestic consumption of fruit and nuts has grown over the past 25 years from 10 to 35 percent for fruit and nuts and from 5 to 15 percent for vegetables. To reduce the risk of inadvertent entry of pests and diseases that could harm agriculture, public health, or the environment, imports of these products are regulated by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

  • Data Feature

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2007

    ERS has released a detailed data set on U.S. livestock and meat trade. It also includes details on product categories for traded livestock and meat products well beyond the aggregate measures often reported. These details are used to illustrate perhaps the best-known case of disrupted trade in U.S. meat and livestock, that of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), over the past 3 years.

  • Data Feature

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2006

    ERS's Foodborne Illness Cost Calculator provides detailed information about the assumptions behind ERS's cost estimates for two foodborne pathogens-Salmonella and Shiga-toxin producing E. coli O157 (STEC O157). The Calculator also allows users to alter these assumptions and generate custom cost estimates.

  • Did BSE Announcements Reduce Beef Purchases?

    ERR-34, December 29, 2006

    ERS examines retail purchases of beef and beef products for evidence of response to the 2003 government announcements of finding cows infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).

  • Disease-Related Trade Restrictions Shaped Animal Product Markets in 2004 and Stamp Imprints on 2005 Forecasts

    LDPM-133-01, August 03, 2005

    Disease outbreaks and related trade restrictions that affected U.S. animal product markets and exports in 2003 continued to constrain markets in 2004. U.S. cattle and beef markets were most affected. Pork, dairy, and lamb markets did not face any direct disease issues but both U.S. and international outbreaks of Avian Influenza buffeted poultry markets. Forecasts of 2005 U.S. animal-products trade reflect expected market responses given the uncertainties surrounding cattle and beef markets in the United States.

  • ERS and Collaborators Model Foot-and-Mouth Disease Outbreaks

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2008

    ERS and university collaborators developed a simulation model to demonstrate the effects of mitigation strategies and impacts of export embargoes for beef, beef cattle, hogs, and pork. In the simulations, the swine and pork sectors recovered soon after export restrictions ended, but beef and cattle effects lingered due to the longer cattle production cycle. Production of all commodities returned to pre-disease levels in less than 2 years.

  • Economic Assessment of Food Safety Regulations: The New Approach to Meat and Poultry Inspection

    AER-755, July 01, 1997

    USDA is now requiring all Federally inspected meat and poultry processing and slaughter plants to implement a new system called Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) to reduce potentially harmful microbial pathogens in the food supply. This report finds that the benefits of the new regulations, which are the medical costs and productivity losses that are prevented when foodborne illnesses are averted, will likely exceed the costs, which include spending by firms on sanitation, temperature control, planning and training, and testing. Other, nonregulatory approaches can also improve food safety, such as providing market incentives for pathogen reduction, irradiation, and education and labeling to promote safe food handling and thorough cooking.