Agricultural Economic Report No. (AER-755) 24 pp

July 1997

Economic Assessment of Food Safety Regulations: The New Approach to Meat and Poultry Inspection

USDA is now requiring all Federally inspected meat and poultry processing and slaughter plants to implement a new system called Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) to reduce potentially harmful microbial pathogens in the food supply. This report finds that the benefits of the new regulations, which are the medical costs and productivity losses that are prevented when foodborne illnesses are averted, will likely exceed the costs, which include spending by firms on sanitation, temperature control, planning and training, and testing. Other, nonregulatory approaches can also improve food safety, such as providing market incentives for pathogen reduction, irradiation, and education and labeling to promote safe food handling and thorough cooking.

Keywords: food safety, foodborne illness, microbial pathogens, meat and poultry inspection, HACCP, cost of illness, consumer education, irradiation

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