Publications

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  • Resolving Trade Disputes Arising from Trends in Food Safety Regulation: The Role of the Multilateral Governance Framework

    AIB-789-3, February 28, 2004

    This research brief examines the conceptual relationships between food safety and international trade, and discusses ways to resolve safety-related trade disputes.

  • Food Safety Issues for Meat/Poultry Products and International Trade

    AIB-789-4, February 28, 2004

    This research summarizes three case studies of how trade in meat and poultry products can be affected by food safety concerns.

  • 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.

  • International Trade and Food Safety: Economic Theory and Case Studies

    AER-828, November 07, 2003

    This report examines the conceptual relationships between food safety and international trade and analyzes empirical examples from the meat and poultry, produce, food and animal feed crop, and seafood sectors.

  • Managing for Safer Food: The Economics of Sanitation and Process Controls in Meat and Poultry Plants

    AER-817, April 08, 2003

    This study evaluates the costs of sanitation and process control in producing meat and poultry. The study shows that the costs of sanitation and process control as required by the Pathogen Reduction/Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (PR/HACCP) rule of 1996 raised wholesale meat and poultry prices by about 1 percent.

  • Product Liability and Microbial Foodborne Illness

    AER-799, April 01, 2001

    This report examines how product liability law treats personal injuries attributed to microbially contaminated foods. The risk of lawsuits stemming from microbial foodborne illness and the resulting court-awarded compensation may create economic incentives for firms to produce safer food. It is not known how many consumers seek compensation for damages from contaminated foods because information about complaints and legal claims involving foodborne illness is not readily accessible, especially for cases that are settled out of court. Reviewing the outcomes of 175 jury trials involving foodborne pathogens, the analysis identifies several factors that influence trial outcomes, while noting that the awards won by plaintiffs tend to be modest.

  • Economics of Food Labeling

    AER-793, January 25, 2001

    Federal intervention in food labeling is often proposed with the aim of achieving a social goal such as improving human health and safety, mitigating environmental hazards, averting international trade disputes, or supporting domestic agricultural and food manufacturing industries. Economic theory suggests, however, that mandatory food-labeling requirements are best suited to alleviating problems of asymmetric information and are rarely effective in redressing environmental or other spillovers associated with food production and consumption. Theory also suggests that the appropriate role for government in labeling depends on the type of information involved and the level and distribution of the costs and benefits of providing that information. This report traces the economic theory behind food labeling and presents three case studies in which the government has intervened in labeling and two examples in which government intervention has been proposed.

  • 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.