Publications

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  • 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.

  • Convergence in Global Food Demand and Delivery

    ERR-56, March 17, 2008

    Globalization and income growth are resulting in increasing similarities worldwide in food purchasing patterns and food delivery mechanisms.

  • Food Safety Improvements Underway in China

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2006

    Adverse publicity about contaminated food incidents has prompted improved food safety programs in China for both the domestic and export market. This article reviews the challenges for Chinese food safety and government programs to improve standards. Only a small portion of Chinese production for the domestic market currently meets the new government standards for safer food. Producing safer food for export is expensive and reduces China's cost advantage in world markets.

  • New Phytosanitary Regulations Allow Higher Imports of Avocados

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2006

    USDA banned imports of avocados from Mexico in 1914 to prevent the entry of avocado pests into the U.S. Over time, advances in scientific risk assessment methods have helps regulators design less trade-restrictive phytosanitary measures. The adoption of a systems approach to risk management has led to the opening of the U.S. market for Mexican avocados. By 2007, Mexico will have year-round market access to all of the 50 States.

  • Economic Effects of Animal Diseases Linked to Trade Dependency

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2006

    In the last decade, animal disease outbreaks have repeatedly disrupted meat trade. The economic effects of disease-related trade bans and consumption changes on an individual country depend on the size of its meat trade relative to domestic production or consumption as well as consumers' perceptions about potential risks to their own health. While production or consumption in some countries has declined significantly, at the global level meat trade has risen, despite the disease outbreaks.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Meat and Poultry Plants' Food Safety Investments: Survey Findings

    TB-1911, May 14, 2004

    A national survey of meat slaughter and processing plants indicates that market forces, in conjunction with regulation, have worked to promote the use of more sophisticated food safety technologies.

  • Food Safety Innovation in the United States: Evidence from the Meat Industry

    AER-831, April 01, 2004

    Recent industry innovations improving the safety of the Nation's meat supply include new pathogen tests, high-tech equipment, supply chain management systems, and surveillance networks.

  • Traceability in the U.S. Food Supply: Economic Theory and Industry Studies

    AER-830, March 18, 2004

    This investigation into the traceability baseline in the United States finds that private sector food firms have developed a substantial capacity to trace.

  • Food Safety and International Trade: Theoretical Issues

    AIB-789-2, February 28, 2004

    This research brief examines the conceptual relationships between food safety and international trade.

  • Food Safety and International Trade

    AIB-789-1, February 28, 2004

    This research brief presents some of the highlights of the ERS report, "International Trade and Food Safety: Economic Theory and Case Studies."

  • 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.

  • Food Safety and Trade: Regulations, Risks, and Reconciliation

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2003

    Global food trade is expanding, providing consumers with access to a wider year-round variety of foods at lower prices. Trade expansion, however, has brought into sharper focus the divergence among countries’ food safety regulations and standards.

  • 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.

  • Sanitary Concerns Restrict U.S.-Mexico Poultry Trade

    Amber Waves, February 03, 2003

    Trade in livestock and meat can be influenced by differences in animal health and sanitary regulations among trade partners. The recent elimination of poultry tariffs between the U.S. and Mexico through the NAFTA highlights the potential impact of such differences.

  • 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.

  • Assigning Values to Life: Comparing Methods for Valuing Health Risks

    AER-784, December 01, 1999

    An examination of five approaches economists and health policy analysts have developed for evaluating policy affecting health and safety: cost-of-illness, willingness-to-pay, cost-effectiveness analysis, risk-risk analysis, and health-health analysis. Also examines the theoretical basis and empirical application of each approach and investigates the influence that assumptions embedded in each approach have on policy guidance.

  • 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.