Publications

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  • Tracking Foodborne Pathogens from Farm to Table: Data Needs to Evaluate Control Options

    MP-1532, December 01, 1995

    The 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 land grant universities and government agencies conducting research on the food system. Topics covered include 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 concerning how food safety data and analysis can help in program and policy design.

  • Estimated Annual Costs of Campylobacter-Associated Guillain-Barre Syndrome

    AER-756, July 01, 1997

    Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) is an autoimmune reaction that can cause acute neuro-muscular paralysis. Of an estimated 2,628 to 9,575 new U.S. cases with GBS annually, 526 to 3,830 are triggered by infection with Campylobacter, the most frequently isolated cause of foodborne diarrhea. Estimated total annual costs of Campylobacter-associated GBS of $0.2 to $1.8 billion plus previously estimated costs of campylobacteriosis ($1.3 to $6.2 billion) add to total annual costs from Campylobacter of $1.5 to $8.0 billion (1995 dollars). Assuming 55-70 percent of costs are attributable to foodborne sources, costs of campylobacteriosis from food sources ($0.7 to $4.3 billion) and costs of associated GBS ($0.1 to $1.3 billion) combined equal total annual costs of $0.8 to $5.6 billion from foodborne Campylobacter. Reducing Campylobacter in food could prevent up to $5.6 billion in costs annually.

  • 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.

  • Tracing the Costs and Benefits of Improvements in Food Safety

    AER-791, November 16, 2000

    The level and distribution of the costs and benefits of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulatory program for meat and poultry change dramatically once economywide effects are included in the analysis. Using a Social Accounting Matrix Model, we find that reduced premature deaths had a strong positive effect on household income, with economywide benefits almost double initial benefits. Contrary to expectations, reduced medical expenses resulted in a decrease in household income, while HACCP costs resulted in an increase. Net economywide benefits were slightly larger than initial net benefits, with poor households receiving a proportionally smaller share of the increased benefits than nonpoor because of their weak ties to the economy. Our SAM analysis provides policymakers useful information about who ultimately benefits from reduced foodborne illnesses and who ultimately pays the costs of food safety regulation. This analysis also sheds light on a number of issues central to cost-benefit analysis involving health, highlighting the danger of equating changes in income with changes in well-being.

  • 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.

  • Calculating the Cost of Foodborne Illness: A New Tool to Value Food Safety Risks

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2003

    Seventy-six million Americans fall ill each year from eating foods contaminated with bacteria, viruses, and parasites. If you have ever been one of them, you are acquainted with some of the costs these diseases inflict. Discomfort, pain, time lost from normal activities, forgone earnings, spending on medications, long-term medical treatment, and even death are all among the possible consequences of foodborne illness. Possible financial costs can run to millions of dollars.

  • Juries Award Higher Amounts for Severe Foodborne Illnesses

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2004

    ERS researchers analyzed 175 foodborne illness lawsuits resolved in court during 1988-97. The researchers found that less than a third of plaintiffs (55 cases) won compensation for their foodborne illnesses. The average compensation, including the cases in which plaintiffs lost as well as won, was $41,888. Injury severity was a major factor affecting an award.

  • U.S. 2003 and 2004 Livestock and Poultry Trade Influenced by Animal Disease and Trade Restrictions

    LDPM-12001, July 01, 2004

    Disease outbreaks and related trade restrictions have slowed previously expected high growth in many U.S. animal product exports, with U.S. beef exports most affected. This report discusses how animal diseases and disease-related trade restrictions have influenced trade in animal products in the past few years, with an emphasis on 2003 and forecasts for 2004. The most important animal diseases that have affected trade in animal products in recent years have been bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), Avian Influenza (AI), and Exotic Newcastle Disease (END).

  • The Economics of Food Safety: The Case of Green Onions and Hepatitis A Outbreaks

    VGS-30501, December 01, 2004

    Using the example of recent 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.

  • The Effects of Avian Influenza News on Consumer Purchasing Behavior: A Case Study of Italian Consumers' Retail Purchases

    ERR-65, August 29, 2008

    To better understand how information about potential health hazards influences food demand, this case study examines consumers' responses to newspaper articles on avian influenza, informally referred to as bird flu. The focus here is on the response to bird flu information in Italy as news about highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza (HPAI H5N1) unfolded in the period October 2004 through October 2006, beginning after reports of the first outbreaks in Southeast Asia, and extending beyond the point at which outbreaks were reported in Western Europe. Estimated poultry demand, as influenced by the volume of newspaper reports on bird flu, reveals the magnitude and duration of newspaper articles' impacts on consumers' food choices. Larger numbers of bird flu news reports led to larger reductions in poultry purchases. Most impacts were of limited duration, and all began to diminish within 5 weeks.

  • Lasting Influence of BSE on U.S. Protein Feed Markets

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2008

    An ERS study of a series of BSE/vCJD risk-reduction initiatives examines the cost of these policies, which have progressively limited the use of animal byproducts and rendered products by the cosmetic, pharmaceutical, and feed-manufacturing industries.

  • Peanut Processing and Sales Hold Steady After Peanut-Product Recalls

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2010

    One of the largest food recalls in U.S. history occurred in early 2009 with the removal of thousands of food products containing peanut ingredients potentially contaminated with Salmonella. In the first 2 months after the recalls began in January 2009, consumers reduced purchases of peanut-containing products, but by April 2009, purchases exceeded the previous year’s levels.

  • Consumers’ Response to the 2006 Foodborne Illness Outbreak Linked to Spinach

    Amber Waves, March 01, 2010

    Consumers responded to the FDA's September 2006 warnings to avoid eating spinach because of possible contamination with E. coli O157:H7. While spinach expenditures fell, consumers turned to other leafy greens as substitutes. The longer term drop in retail expenditures on fresh spinach products was almost matched by gains in expenditures on other leafy greens.

  • U.S. Food Safety Policy Enters a New Era

    Amber Waves, December 01, 2011

    ERS research conducted over the past two decades provides a number of lessons that can help identify efficient and effective means of implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010.

  • Making Sense of Recent Cost-of-Foodborne-Illness Estimates

    EIB-118, September 30, 2013

    ERS examines estimates of the cost of foodborne illness, focusing on factors that result in different estimates. Factors include the number of pathogens included in estimates and the method of assigning monetary value to the impacts.

  • Recent Estimates of the Cost of Foodborne Illness Are in General Agreement

    Amber Waves, November 18, 2013

    Recent studies by ERS, University of Florida, and Ohio State University researchers agree that Salmonella and Toxoplasma gondii are the first and second most costly foodborne pathogens in the United States in terms of medical care, lost time from work, and losses due to premature death.

  • Food Loss—Questions About the Amount and Causes Still Remain

    Amber Waves, June 02, 2014

    ERS estimates that 31 percent, or 133 billion pounds, of food available for consumption in U.S. grocery stores, restaurants, and homes went uneaten in 2010. Greater awareness of the amount of food loss—and where and why it occurs—may help spur public and private responses.

  • 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.

  • Economic Burden of Major Foodborne Illnesses Acquired in the United States

    EIB-140, May 12, 2015

    Each year, 1 in 6 people in the United States is sickened by a foodborne illness acquired in the States. ERS provides an overview of recent estimates of the economic burden imposed annually by 15 leading foodborne pathogens.

  • How Much Does It Matter How Sick You Get? Consumers' Responses to Foodborne Disease Outbreaks of Different Severities

    ERR-193, August 27, 2015

    A case study of pathogen-related recalls of cantaloupe in 2011 and 2012 suggests consumers' food purchase responses take into account the relative risk severity of specific pathogens. Information from news media apparently plays a role.