Markets, Regulation, and Policy

ERS provides economic analyses of issues that affect the safety of the U.S. food supply. USDA is responsible for regulating meat and poultry, egg products, and catfish, whereas the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees food safety for almost all other foods. 

ERS examines how private markets and government regulation interact to help ensure the safety of the U.S. food supply. This research covers several key areas:

  • Private market mechanisms that control food safety;
  • The impact of new or changing federal regulation on food safety;
  • Regulation of food handling and processing practices (for example, meat and poultry slaughter, produce packing and shipping);
  • Technology innovation to enhance food safety; and
  • Food safety and trade (imports and exports).

ERS examines industry response to foodborne disease outbreaks, the impact of recalls on product demand and plant behavior, and the effectiveness of litigation in compensating victims of foodborne illness. ERS also examines market mechanisms, such as contracts or alliances, that commercial buyers develop to encourage better food safety performance, the impact of government regulation on the food safety performance of meat plants and the produce industry, and characteristics of food producers that encourage food safety.

Globalization of the food supply means new food-safety risks and previously controlled risks can be introduced into countries, and contaminated food can be spread across greater geographic areas. Food-safety concerns may reduce demand for certain products, alter domestic production and international food trade patterns, and limit market access for some exporters. ERS analyzes global food safety that includes the interplay of regulation and marketing incentives in promoting food safety; labeling and traceability; and the impact of specific foodborne illness outbreaks. ERS maintains a set of data on phytosanitary regulation of U.S. fresh fruit and vegetable imports.

Users may also be interested in Food Safety: Consumers.