Publications

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  • U.S. Consumers Had Short-Term Response to First BSE Announcements

    Amber Waves, September 03, 2007

    ERS researchers compared household-level retail food purchases of three types of beef products before and after the 2003 U.S. government announcements of finding two North American cows infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) to see if consumers reduced their purchases of those products, and, if so, for how long. Food purchase data reveal that the response of U.S. consumers to those announcements was limited and dissipated within 2 weeks.

  • Outbreak Linked to Spinach Forces Reassessment of Food Safety Practices

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2007

    This article reviews the 2006 foodborne illness outbreak associated with spinach. It discusses the voluntary Food and Drug Administration guidelines (Good Agricultural Practices) for minimizing microbial contamination of fresh produce and the benefits and costs to farmers of adopting these guidelines. The article concludes with industry strategies to reduce future outbreaks.

  • 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.

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • Where Should the Money Go? Aligning Policies With Preferences

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2006

    Budget constraints force policymakers to choose which programs to fund, even when human health and safety are at risk. The principle of weighing costs and benefits can help policymakers determine which programs will save the most lives or lead to the largest improvements in health and well-being. This Amber Waves feature article examines different ways economists (and others) look at placing monetary values on risks and preferences.

  • Public Information Creates Value

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2006

    Using information, individuals can make sound decisions that allow them to adjust their actions to the situation at-hand. Farmers facing a potential pest infection, such as soybean rust, can use publicly provided information about the likelihood of infection to make better decisions about the amount and timing of fungicide applications.

  • 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.

  • New Pathogen Tests Trigger Food Safety Innovations

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2006

    The increased demand for pathogen testing that began in the early 1990s is being matched by an increased supply of sophisticated testing systems. DNA-based tests deliver results that are more comprehensive, sensitive, and accurate in a shorter time and at a lower cost. Information provided by these tests has enabled the food industry to improve the safety of food.

  • Recent Meetings

    Amber Waves, February 01, 2006

    Snapshots of recent events at ERS - February 2006

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Pork Quality and the Role of Market Organization

    AER-835, November 08, 2004

    This study addresses changes in the organization of the U.S. pork industry, most notably marketing contracts between packers and producers, by exploring their function in addressing pork quality concerns. A number of developments brought quality concerns to the forefront. These include health concerns and corresponding preferences for lean pork, growing incidence of undesirable quality attributes (e.g., pale, soft, and exudative (PSE) meat, a result of breeding for leanness), heightened concerns over food safety and related regulatory programs, and expansion into global markets. Organizational arrangements can facilitate industry efforts to address pork quality needs by reducing measuring costs, controlling quality attributes that are difficult to measure, facilitating adaptations to changing quality standards, and reducing transaction costs associated with relationship-specific investments in branding programs.

  • 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.

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • Market Incentives Raise Food Safety Bar

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2004

    Slaughter and processing plants today are increasingly reacting to stringent requirements for pathogen control set out by large meat and poultry buyers. These buyers reward suppliers who meet the standards and punish those who do not, in effect raising the food safety bar.

  • Savvy Buyers Spur Food Safety Innovations in Meat Processing

    Amber Waves, April 01, 2004

    Though food safety and food safety innovations are desirable, meat processors face special challenges that weaken their incentives to invest in food safety improvements. Some restaurant chains and large retailers are setting and enforcing safety standards and creating markets for food safety. As a result, they are driving increases in food safety investments throughout the meat supply chain.

  • 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.