Consumers and Markets
Tanya Roberts, Guest Editor, and Rodolfo M. Nayga Jr., Co-Editor
Overview: Economic Incentives, Public Policies, and Private Strategies to Control Foodborne Pathogens
The economics of food safety is a relatively new area of research. New scientific data, interdisciplinary research and models, and understanding the various forms of economic incentives are all improving knowledge about the interface between public policies and private strategies. Not only are global markets at stake, but foodborne pathogens cause acute illness in 76 million US consumers, 5,000 deaths, and an unknown number of chronic complications annually. This set of papers explores the central role of information in food safety decision-making as well as the interrelationship between regulations and markets in creating economic incentives to control foodborne pathogens.
Ginger Zhe Jin and Phillip Leslie
In January 1998, Los Angeles required restaurants to prominently display in their window a letter-grade card (A, B, or C) corresponding to the result of their most recent hygiene inspection. The effects of grade cards on restaurant hygiene, restaurant revenue, restaurant prices and output, behavior of inspectors, and, most importantly, the occurrence of food-related illnesses, is assessed using a variety of databases.
John Fox, Brian Coffey, James Mintert, Ted Schroeder, and Luc Valentin
Prior to the December 2003 discovery of a cow with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in Washington State, the United States implemented measures to prevent the disease from entering the country and to prevent its spread if it were found. After this case of BSE was discovered, additional measures were introduced to reassure domestic and foreign consumers about the safety of US beef. The efficiency of the US response to the disease is analyzed, and additional measures that have been proposed are discussed.
Andrew Fearne and Marian Garcia Martinez
Consumer concerns about food safety are pressuring UK government agencies to be more prescriptive and more proactive in their regulation of the food industry. The scarcity of public-sector resources and the scale of the task are stimulating interest in coregulation, with public and private sectors working hand in hand to deliver safer food at lower regulatory cost. This prospect is analyzed and barriers to coregulation of food safety are identified.
To maintain a reputation or to meet contractual or regulatory requirements, firms choose different target levels of pathogen control for various meat and poultry products. Private strategies to control pathogens are diverse, and supply chain control is crucial. Public information and regulations strengthen private incentives for pathogen control.
S. Andrew Starbird
In many supply chain transactions, buyers and sellers use contracts to coordinate the exchange of goods and services. When buyers have imperfect information about the safety of a supplier's product, carefully designed supply chain contracts can be used to segregate safe and unsafe suppliers. If they are designed correctly, supply chain contracts can deter unsafe suppliers from distributing harmful food.
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