Publications

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  • 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.

  • Is Dietary Knowledge Enough? Hunger, Stress, and Other Roadblocks to Healthy Eating

    ERR-62, August 11, 2008

    Using a consumer demand model, ERS illustrates how both long-term health objectives and immediate visceral influences (e.g., time pressure) influence food choices.

  • The National School Lunch Program Background, Trends, and Issues

    ERR-61, July 18, 2008

    The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is the Nation's second largest food and nutrition assistance program. In 2006, it operated in over 101,000 public and nonprofit private schools and provided over 28 million low-cost or free lunches to children on a typical school day at a Federal cost of $8 billion for the year. This report provides background information on the NSLP, including historical trends and participant characteristics. It also addresses steps being taken to meet challenges facing administrators of the program, including tradeoffs between nutritional quality of foods served, costs, and participation, as well as between program access and program integrity.

  • Food Security Assessment, 2007

    GFA-19, July 03, 2008

    The number of food insecure people in the 70 lower income countries covered in this report rose between 2006 and 2007, from 849 million to 982 million. Food insecure people are those consuming less than the nutritional target of 2,100 calories per day. The food security situation of these countries is projected to deteriorate over the next decade. The distribution gap-an indicator of food access-is projected to rise from 44 million tons in 2007 to more than 57 million tons in 2017. This is more than seven times the amount of food aid received by these countries in 2006. Sub-Saharan Africa, already the most vulnerable region with the lowest calorie intake levels, will suffer the greatest deterioration in food security.

  • Dietary Assessment of Major Trends in U.S. Food Consumption, 1970-2005

    EIB-33, March 28, 2008

    ERS investigates trends in U.S. food consumption from 1970 to 2005. Results suggest many Americans still fall short of Federal dietary recommendations for whole grains, lower fat dairy products, and fruits and vegetables.

  • Price Trends Are Similar for Fruits, Vegetables, and Snack Foods

    ERR-55, March 12, 2008

    Evidence suggest that a wide class of unprepared fresh fruits and vegetables-those that have not been combined with labor-saving attributes-display declining prices along with prices of commonly consumed dessert and snack foods

  • The U.S. Grain Consumption Landscape: Who Eats Grain, in What Form, Where, and How Much?

    ERR-50, November 26, 2007

    ERS compared consumption of refined and whole grains with recommendations of the 2005 Dietary Guidelines, considering the consumers' social, economic, and demographic characteristics.

  • Can Food Stamps Do More To Improve Food Choices? An Economic Perspective

    EIB-29, September 27, 2007

    Eight economic information bulletins compile evidence to address the question of whether the Food Stamp Program could do more to encourage healthful food choices.

  • Can Food Stamps Do More to Improve Food Choices? An Economic Perspective-Making Healthy Food Choices Easier: Ideas From Behavioral Economics

    EIB-29-7, September 27, 2007

    With obesity the most prevalent nutrition problem facing Americans at all economic levels, promoting diets that provide adequate nutrition without too many calories has become an important objective for the Food Stamp Program. Findings from behavioral economics suggest innovative, low-cost ways to improve the diet quality of food stamp participants without restricting their freedom of choice. Unlike more traditional economic interventions, such as changing prices or banning specific foods, the strategies explored in this brief can be targeted to those participants who want help making more healthful food choices.

  • Can Food Stamps Do More to Improve Food Choices? An Economic Perspective—Nutrition Information: Can It Improve the Diets of Low-Income Households?

    EIB-29-6, September 03, 2007

    The Food Stamp Nutrition Education (FSNE) component of the Food Stamp Program is intended to improve the food choices, diet quality, and health of program participants. This brief discusses the FSNE program, how it operates, and how it has grown over time. The brief also considers the challenges of nutrition education in general and discusses the research and evaluation needs suggested by the findings.

  • Food Security Assessment, 2006

    GFA-18, June 28, 2007

    The number of hungry people in the 70 lower income countries covered in this report rose between 2005 and 2006, from 804 million to 849 million. However, the food distribution gap-an indicator of food access-declined, which means that, although more people are vulnerable to food insecurity, the intensity was less in 2006 than in 2005. By 2016, the number of hungry people is projected to decline in all regions, except Sub-Saharan Africa. The average nutrition gap, the indicator of food availability, was 13.5 million tons (grain equivalent) in 2006 and is expected to increase to 14 million tons by 2016. Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 85 percent of this gap, the low-income countries of Asia for only 14 percent, and the low-income countries of Latin America and the Caribbean for the remaining 1 percent. The average nutrition gap was much smaller than the distribution gap, which takes into account unequal purchasing power within countries. The distribution gap was an estimated 27 million tons in 2006 for all 70 countries, decreasing to close to 26 million tons by 2016.

  • Could Behavioral Economics Help Improve Diet Quality for Nutrition Assistance Program Participants?

    ERR-43, June 01, 2007

    The increasing presence of nontraditional grocery retailers such as supercenters is generating new cost-cutting and differentiation strategies among traditional food retailers.

  • Food Spending in American Households, 2003-04

    EIB-23, March 13, 2007

    Using data from the most recent Consumer Expenditure Survey, ERS presents information on nationwide urban food expenditure patterns by select demographic and socioeconomic characteristics.

  • Vegetables and Melons Outlook: March 2007

    VGS-31901, March 06, 2007

    Carrots are one of the most popular vegetables in the United States and fresh-market carrot consumption has been increasing over the past few decades. Using a combination of ACNielsen Homescan panel data and USDA's Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals, this article examines where and how much fresh and processed carrots are eaten and links this consumption to various economic, social, and demographic characteristics of consumers. The analysis indicates that per capita carrot consumption is greatest in the East and Central regions of the country. About 80 percent of fresh-market carrots are purchased at retail and consumed at home, with the majority consisting of fresh-cut (including baby) carrots.

  • 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).

  • Possible Implications for U.S. Agriculture From Adoption of Select Dietary Guidelines

    ERR-31, November 20, 2006

    To help Americans meet nutritional requirements while staying within caloric recommendations, the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourage consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole-grain products, and fat-free or low-fat milk or milk products. This report provides one view of the potential implications for U.S. agriculture if Americans changed their current consumption patterns to meet some of those guidelines. For Americans to meet the fruit, vegetable, and whole-grain recommendations, domestic crop acreage would need to increase by an estimated 7.4 million harvested acres, or 1.7 percent of total U.S. cropland in 2002. To meet the dairy guidelines, consumption of milk and milk products would have to increase by 66 percent; an increase of that magnitude would likely require an increase in the number of dairy cows as well as increased feed grains and, possibly, increased acreage devoted to dairy production.

  • How Low-Income Households Allocate Their Food Budget Relative to the Cost of the Thrifty Food Plan

    ERR-20, August 25, 2006

    Low-income households that participate in the Food Stamp Program can achieve a healthy diet if they use the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP) as a guide for their food shopping. Most studies measuring the degree to which low-income households follow the TFP have compared total household food expenditures-for food at home as well as food away from home-to the TFP. The present study looked at total expenditures, but the emphasis is on how low-income households allocate their budget relative to the TFP for food at home. To determine whether some types of households are more likely than others to budget their food purchases in accordance with TFP benchmarks, and to identify households that might benefit most from nutrition education programs, the study compared actual and TFP expenditures for four household categories.

  • Fruit and Vegetable Backgrounder

    VGS-31301, April 17, 2006

    This report describes the economic characteristics of the U.S. fruit and vegetable industry, providing supply, demand, and policy background for an industry that accounts for nearly a third of U.S. crop cash receipts and a fifth of U.S. agricultural exports.

  • U.S. Food Consumption Up 16 Percent Since 1970

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2005

    According to ERS's food consumption (per capita) data series, the amount of food available to eat increased 16 percent between 1970 and 2003, from 1,675 pounds per person to 1,950 pounds. This increase resulted in a corresponding jump in calories, from 2,234 calories per person per day in 1970 to 2,757 calories in 2003. Fats and oils, grains, vegetables, and sugars/sweeteners showed the largest increases.

  • Data Feature

    Amber Waves, November 01, 2005

    The American Time Use Survey (ATUS) collects information on how Americans spend a critical resource-their time. The Survey reports on time spent on work, household chores, child care, recreation, and numerous other activities. Starting in 2005-06, the Survey will include an ERS-developed module consisting of questions designed to examine time use; purchasing, preparing, and consuming food; and obesity.