A Regional-level Comparison of the Cost of Food Safety Failures
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Series/Report no.:Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics. Graduate student poster competition, 2006
Food safety failures can have dramatic effects on public health triggering policy interventions. Once policy is in place, the effectiveness of control should be monitored. Two major outcomes of food safety failures - outbreaks and recalls – are often used as proxies of control in food safety economics research. Due to data limitations, or because of a particular policy focus, most studies of the effectiveness of food safety controls have been conducted at a national level. It is unclear what regional or state differences may be lost in this aggregation. As one common metric of the economic impact of food safety failures on consumers, Kuchler and Golan (1999) discuss the cost of illness (COI) approach, which will be employed in this research. COI calculates the consumer burden which is a lower bound of the cost of food safety failures. Other elements of the burden to society include government and firm costs. This poster compares such disaggregated cost elements to inform policy evaluations. The information contained in recall and outbreak databases at a regional level will be compared and linked to covariates to highlight patterns of policy effectiveness. Preliminary results suggest similar patterns of food safety failure costs are indicated using both sets of information in many portions of the US. However, in other regions the two forms of food safety failures lead to very different estimates of the cost burden, suggesting the need to impose weights in policy effectiveness studies.