Publications

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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Research Investments and Market Structure in the Food Processing, Agricultural Input, and Biofuel Industries Worldwide: Executive Summary

    EIB-90, December 30, 2011

    Meeting growing global demand for food, fiber, and biofuel requires robust investment in agricultural research and development (R&D) from both public and private sectors. This report highlights the major findings of a study examining global R&D spending by private industry in seven agricultural input sectors, food manufacturing, and biofuel and describes the changing structure of these industries. For the full report, see Research Investments and Market Structure in the Food Processing, Agricultural Input, and Biofuel Industries Worldwide, ERR-130. In 2007 (the latest year for which comprehensive estimates are available), the private sector spent $19.7 billion on food and agricultural research (56 percent in food manufacturing and 44 percent in agricultural input sectors) and accounted for about half of total public and private spending on food and agricultural R&D in high-income countries. In R&D related to biofuel, annual private-sector investments are estimated to have reached $1.47 billion worldwide by 2009. Incentives to invest in R&D are influenced by market structure and other factors. Agricultural input industries have undergone significant structural change over the past two decades, with industry concentration on the rise. A relatively small number of large, multinational firms with global R&D and marketing networks account for most R&D in each input industry. Rising market concentration has not generally been associated with increased R&D investment as a percentage of industry sales.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • Irradiation of Produce Imports: Small Inroads, Big Obstacles

    Amber Waves, June 16, 2011

    Irradiation is an alternative treatment for foodborne pests on imported fruit and vegetables, but it requires labeling and large investments in facilities and some consumers remain wary of the process.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Peanut Outlook: Impacts of the 2008-09 Foodborne Illness Outbreak Linked to Salmonella in Peanuts

    OCS-10A-01, February 01, 2010

    The 2009 foodborne illness outbreak linked to Salmonella in peanut products resulted in one of the largest food safety recalls ever in the United States. The source of the outbreak handled a small share of the U.S. peanut supply, but the scope of the recalls was magnified because the peanut products were used as ingredients in more than 3,900 products. Consumer purchases of peanut-containing products initially slowed during the recalls, but retail purchases soon returned to normal and peanut processing held steady. The recalls do not appear to have had a lasting impact on peanut demand and production.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • The Roles of Economists in the U.S. Department of Agriculture

    AP-031, January 02, 2009

    Among the many responsibilities of USDA are implementing the Food Stamp Program and other food and nutrition assistance programs; managing Federal forest land; implementing standards of humane care and treatment of animals; providing incentives for adopting wildlife habitat enhancements and other conservation practices; participating in trade negotiations; ensuring the safety of meat, poultry, and eggs; providing funds for rural business development; and implementing farm programs legislated by Congress. The Department has a broad mandate, and virtually everything with which it is charged has economic dimensions. It is not surprising, then, that USDA employs over 800 economists across 16 of its agencies.

  • 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.

  • Food Safety and Imports: An Analysis of FDA Import Refusal Reports

    EIB-39, September 09, 2008

    This report examines U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) data on refusals of food offered for importation into the United States from 1998 to 2004. Although the data do not necessarily reflect the distribution of risk in foods, the study found that import refusals highlight food safety problems that appear to recur in trade and where the FDA has focused its import alerts, examinations (e.g., sampling), and other monitoring efforts. The data show some food industries and types of violations may be consistent sources of problems both over time and in comparison with previous studies of more limited data. The three food industry groups with the most violations were vegetables (20.6 percent of total violations), fishery and seafood (20.1 percent), and fruits (11.7 percent). Violations observed over the entire time period include sanitary issues in seafood and fruit products, pesticides in vegetables, and unregistered processes for canned food products in all three industries.

  • 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.

  • Pest Problems Abroad May Affect Compliance With U.S. Safeguards

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2008

    Economically efficient treatment schedules to control Mediterranean fruit fly (medfly) infestations increase with the fraction of U.S. imports of fresh fruits and vegetables infested with medfly larvae. When medfly populations abroad are at or below average levels, the economic incentives of fruit and vegetable producers are consistent with U.S. treatment schedules. However, when medfly population levels abroad are exceptionally high, profits received by a representative foreign producer are maximized at a cold treatment level lower than the U.S.

  • 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.

  • 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).