Readings

This page provides references to ERS reports and journal articles:

ERS researchers used Italy as a case study to examine consumers' responses to newspaper articles on avian influenza (bird flu) from October 2004, after reports of the first outbreaks in Southeast Asia, through October 2006, beyond the point at which outbreaks were reported in Western Europe. Larger numbers of newspaper reports on bird flu led to larger reductions in poultry purchases, and most impacts were of limited duration (August 2008). See:

The Effects of Avian Influenza News on Consumer Purchasing Behavior: A Case Study of Italian Consumers' Retail Purchases

Consumers' retail purchases of beef and beef products were examined for evidence that consumers responded to the 2003 U.S. Government announcements of cows infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). ERS researchers constructed weekly estimates of quantities of beef products consumers purchased from 1998 through 2004 using Nielsen Homescan data and found that 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 (December 2006). See:

Did BSE Announcements Reduce Beef Purchases?

"Knowledge, Attitude, and Practice of the Use of Irradiated Meat Among Respondents to the FoodNet Population Survey in Connecticut and New York"—Hoefer, Dina, Shauna Malone, Paul D. Frenzen, Ruthanne Marcus, Elaine Scallan, and Shelley Zansky. "Knowledge, Attitude, and Practice of the Use of Irradiated Meat Among Respondents to the FoodNet Population Survey in Connecticut and New York." Journal of Food Protection 69:2441-46 (October 2006).

"Consumer Perceptions of Safety Critical for Food Imports"—Highly publicized international food safety incidents may change consumer perceptions about food safety and consumers' food purchasing patterns. Even after a problem has been resolved regarding the safety of an imported food, consumer perceptions about the implicated food product and about the exporting country's ability to produce safe food may be slow to change, and these perceptions may have a lasting influence on food demand and global trade (November 2003).  See:

International Trade and Food Safety: Economic Theory and Case Studies

Americans are eating their hamburgers more well-done than in the past, reducing the risk of E. coli O157:H7 infection by 4.6 percent and reducing associated medical costs and productivity losses by $7.4 million annually. In a 1996 survey, respondents who were more concerned about the risk of foodborne illness cooked and ordered hamburgers more well-done than those who were less concerned (July 2002). See:

Consumer Food Safety Behavior: A Case Study in Hamburger Cooking and Ordering

"Safe Handling Labels for Meat and Poultry: A Case Study in Information Policy"—In 1994, USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) began requiring safe handling labels for all packages of raw meat and poultry. This case study reviews the economic rationale for such a regulation and summarizes the available data on the success of the regulation (See Ralston, Katherine L. and C.T. Jordan Lin. "Safe Handling Labels on Meat and Poultry: A Case Study in Information Policy," Consumer Interests Annual, vol. 47, pp. 1-8) (2001).

"Dissecting the Challenges of Mad Cow & Foot-and-Mouth Disease"—The simultaneous presence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy disease and foot-and-mouth disease in the UK in 2001 caused confusion among consumers worldwide about these diseases and their interrelationships. This article summarizes the differences and similarities between the two diseases and presents some estimated economic impacts and implications (August 2001).

"Awareness of Risks Changing How Hamburgers Are Cooked"—More Americans are eating their hamburgers more thoroughly cooked, partly due to greater awareness of the health risks of eating undercooked meat. The change in behavior means $7.4 million lower medical costs and productivity losses annually due to E. coli O157:H7 infection alone, as well as other foodborne illnesses associated with rare and medium rare hamburger (May-August 2000).

ERS researchers found that a fourth of survey respondents were willing to pay a premium for irradiated ground beef or chicken, which cost more to produce than comparable non-irradiated products. These findings suggest that food irradiation will have a limited impact on public health unless consumer preferences change, perhaps in response to educational messages about the safety and benefits of food irradiation (August 2000). See:

Consumer Acceptance of Irradiated Meat and Poultry Products

Demand for Organic and Conventional Frozen Vegetables—This report compares the market shares and prices of organic and conventional frozen vegetables (broccoli, green beans, green peas, and sweet corn), using national supermarket scanner data for 1990-96. Price and expenditure elasticities are estimated using the almost ideal demand system (1998).