ERS food-safety research examines how markets, consumers, and regulators interact to provide safe food, analyzes the economic efficiency of these interactions, and informs public sector food-safety policies by addressing questions such as:

  • Do consumers' food choices create sufficient incentives or are consumers' demands for food safety unmet even though suppliers are able (physically and financially) to meet those demands?
  • Can food safety be marketed and, if so, how do sellers (all along the food supply chain) gain buyers' trust that foods meet advertised safety margins? Is trust bought with third-party certification or made with contracts?
  • What would greater food safety cost at different points in the food supply chain?
  • Can public-sector intervention solve consumer food safety demands and, if so, at what cost?
  • Do regulatory actions—hazard analysis critical control point (HACCP) requirements and enforcement applied to food manufacturers, school lunch contracts, and consumer safe-food handling labels—increase economic incentives for food-safety innovation and adoption of better practices throughout the supply chain?

The other main federal regulatory agencies are:

  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for domestic and imported food, except meat and poultry, egg products, and catfish; and
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for setting pesticide tolerances in food.