Economic Research Report No. (ERR-34) 45 pp

December 2006

Did BSE Announcements Reduce Beef Purchases?

This study examines consumers' retail purchases of beef and beef products for evidence of a response to the 2003 U.S. government announcements of finding cows infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). We constructed weekly estimates of quantities of beef products consumers purchased from 1998 through 2004 using ACNielsen Homescan data. While the variance in purchases was large, most could be explained by trend and seasonality. Deviations from established purchase patterns following the BSE announcements varied across beef products, but were limited to no more than 2 weeks in all cases.

Keywords: food safety, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, BSE, retail beef purchases, government announcements, retrospective analysis

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