This article discusses a number of issues that are influencing the evolution of food safety regulation in developed and, to a lesser extent, developing countries. Whilst not definitive, it aims to highlight those factors which are considered crucial to an understanding of contemporary food safety controls in both the public and private spheres. These issues include criteria applied to assess the need/justification for food safety regulation, relationships between public and private food safety control systems, alternative forms that public food safety regulation can take, strategic responses to food safety regulation, and the trade implications of national food safety controls. The article serves as an introduction to these issues, which are discussed at greater length in the other papers that make up this special issue of Food Policy.
The competitiveness of food companies in national and international markets depends upon their ability to adopt production processes which meet food safety and quality requirements. Food safety and quality assurance affect the cost of carrying out transactions, and therein lies the private incentive for adopting voluntary quality assurance systems. While quality assurance systems have the potential to reduce transaction costs by serving as the seller's guarantee of safety or quality, they may also serve as trade barriers.
This article discusses the nature and role of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) as a food safety control system and, in particular, its role as an element of public food safety regulation. The notion of efficiency in food safety regulation is discussed and related to the nature of food safety controls. It is suggested that, if appropriately applied, HACCP is a more economically efficient approach to food safety regulation than command and control (CAC) interventions. The economic implications of HACCP are discussed with reference to estimates of the costs and benefits, in particular for the food industry. Finally, the use of HACCP as an international trade standard and the facilitation of trade in processed food products is considered.
Our goal in this paper is to examine the role and influence of economic factors, defined rather broadly, on consumer food choices, and, hence, nutritional outcomes. We attempt to do this in a non-technical fashion. We examine the role prices, especially as they relate to the affordability of food in the United States and as a policy lever. Income is analyzed as a driving force behind changes in eating habits, in particular increasing the demand for convenience. The role of time constraints as well as time preference are examined as links to healthy eating habits and as forces behind current trends in eating patterns. Information and knowledge are given prominent play as counter balances to economic forces driving eating habits. We conclude with and examination into maternal nutrition knowledge and children's dietary quality.
Recent research on the multi-factorial nature of food security has provided a wealth of analytical insight, but measurement problems remain a major challenge, not only for research, but particularly for targeting, program management, monitoring and evaluation. Building on an approach suggested in a 1996 article, this paper constructs a series of alternative food-security indicators based on the frequency and severity of consumption-related coping strategies. These alternative indicators are then compared with more standard measures, including a consumption benchmark, a poverty benchmark and a nutritional benchmark using data from the 1997 Accra Urban Food and Nutrition Study. Against these more traditional indicators, the coping strategy indicators are best at ruling out cases-that is, minimizing the risk of classifying a food-insecure household as food-secure. They also help to identify sources of vulnerability and the trade-offs made with other basic needs to acquire sufficient food. The measures outlined here are much less time-consuming and less expensive in terms of data collection and analysis, and therefore perhaps offer a pragmatic alternative to food and livelihood program managers. However, the comparative analysis of conventional benchmarks with the coping strategies indicator reveals some shortcomings with the benchmark indicators as well-a sign that perhaps the indicators of food security proposed here are both alternative and complementary measures.
Food decisions made by individuals affect the healthfulness of their food intakes and influence the success or failure of food products in the consumer-oriented food marketplace of today. Because consumers develop their own systems of deciding what to eat and how to follow the Food Guide Pyramid, it is difficult to know which factors or combinations of factors that influence those decisions are most important. Some of these factors that influence consumer food choices are discussed in this paper. These include cultural factors, psychological factors, lifestyle factors, and food trends. Barriers to food decisions that follow Food Guide Pyramid recommendations for healthy diets are identified. These are barriers related to food, consumer food behavior and dietary guidance. Approaches are summarized for modifying consumer food decision-making behavior in the direction of healthful diets that follow the Food Guide Pyramid.
This paper assesses the responses made by food companies to changes in food safety legislation. Such responses are assessed in three ways. Firstly, an assessment is made as to why strategic responses to such legislation might be different to general strategic behaviour. Secondly a conceptual framework is presented and an examination of supply chain organisational response is made. Finally, the paper addresses the question of external marketing responses to food safety legislation. The paper concludes that food safety legislation is different, and often requires very swift strategic actions to be effective. Like other forms of legislation, however, food safety issues can also provide incentives and opportunities to well-managed and market-orientated firms.
This paper begins with a review of the concepts and methods that can be used to quantify the benefits and costs of food safety regulations. On the cost side, where research is only beginning to emerge, this paper also provides an analytical framework for measurement of the costs of statutory regulations in the form of design and performance standards. This paper also discusses the use and limitations of currently available benefit and cost information for quantitative regulatory impact assessment, using the assessment of the mandatory HACCP and pathogen reduction regulations in the United States as an example. The paper concludes with suggestions for future research on quantifying benefits and costs of food safety regulations.
The need for systematic, empirical analysis of food aid targeting and impacts is overwhelming, especially given the large numbers of people concerned and volume of funds allocated to the problem of feeding Ethiopia's food insecure. This research examines the efficiency of food aid targeting in rural Ethiopia based on empirical evidence from a nationally representative survey of 4166 farm households. A key finding of the study is that there is no significant association between household food insecurity (vulnerability) and food aid receipts-a result of high errors of exclusion and inclusion at both the wereda and household levels. Four factors are identified as causes of the high level of targeting error: (1) the primary beneficiaries of food aid programs are found to be households at the extremes in terms of food availability: those with the least and those with the most food available; (2) a disproportionate number of female and aged heads of households received food aid, irrespective of their food needs; (3) an inability of the food aid system to reach households outside of the historically deficit areas; and (4) a disproportionate concentration of food aid in the region of Tigray.
This paper assesses the problems of financing Central and Eastern European agriculture during the present transitionary period and the role of government in this process. Initially the paper looks at why credit markets work imperfectly, even in well developed market economies, focusing on problems related to asymmetric information, adverse selection, moral hazard, credit rationing, optimal debt instrument choice and initial wealth. It shows why these and related problems may cause transaction costs to be so high that credit rationing and high interest rates are rational and efficient responses by lenders to the imperfect information problems of the agricultural sector. A series of specific, transition-related issues are then discussed which have worsened these problems within the Central and Eastern European agricultural sector. The potential roles of governments in solving these issues and actual observed interventions by Central and Eastern Europe governments through credit subsidies, loan guarantees and specialised agricultural lending institutions are analysed. Finally, the paper discusses how financial market innovations have solved some of the credit market problems and derives the implications for government policies.
This paper focuses on the U.S. product liability system for food poisoning cases and makes six key points. First, current legal incentives to produce safer food are weak, though slightly stronger in outbreak situations and in markets where foodborne illness can be more easily traced to individual firms. Far less than 0.01% of cases are litigated and even fewer are paid compensation. Second, even if potential plaintiffs can overcome the high information and transaction costs necessary to file lawsuits, monetary compensation provides only weak incentives to pursue litigation. Firms paid compensation in 56% of the 294 cases examined in this study and the median compensation was only $2,000 before legal fees. Third, indirect incentives for firms may be important and deserve more research. For example, firms may be influenced by costly settlements and decisions against other firms in the same industry. Fourth, confidential settlements, health insurance, and product liability insurance distort legal incentives to produce safer food. Fifth, the ambiguity about whether microbial contamination is 'natural' or an 'adulterant' hinders the legal system from effectively dealing with food safety issues. Sixth, a brief comparison of the incentives from U.S. and English legal systems suggests that more research is needed to understand the strengths, weaknesses, and relative impact of each country's legal system on the incentives to produce safer food.
This article summarizes research and policy questions, and research methods and findings of four case studies of the impacts of the 1994 CFA franc devaluation in West Africa on urban food consumption. The case studies are household surveys from Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Mali, and Senegal. The research showed, in general, that, comparing food consumption patterns after the devaluation with those before, that: (1) total cereal intake fell, especially for the poorest; (2) the intake of imported rice held steady; (3) the intake of domestic coarse grains (millet, maize, sorghum) did not rise, except for an increase in maize intake in Burkina Faso; (4) only in Mali was there a significant shift to domestic rice; (5) imported wheat intake dropped; (6) roots, tuber and plantain consumption did not receive a boost; (7) there was an alarming 'de-diversification' of the diet, especially for the poorest, with reductions in meat, edible oils, and vegetables/fruit, as well as imported milk; there was, however, some increase in domestic oils/butters consumption; (8) there was some 'individualization' of consumption patterns with increased importance of the informal restaurant sector. The most striking results in the context of the policy debate are that cereal intake fell, and that the (expected) shift from imported rice to local coarse grains did not occur. The lack of such a shift is explainable in terms of the lackluster supply response of the coarse grain sectors, and the resilience of rice demand based on its convenience of processing and preparation for the urban consumer. These results together imply: (1) the economics and technology of agro-processing of coarse grains need to return to the center of the cereals debate in West Africa; (2) emphasis on the capacity of local coarse grain and domestic rice producers to respond to incentives needs to be increased.
The already precarious household food-security situation in many semi-arid areas of Africa may be rendered more so through the implementation of structural adjustment programmes that frequently prescribe austerity measures, along with a safety net to protect the vulnerable. However, longer-term development policy perspectives on the one hand, and shorter-term food-relief considerations on the other, often conflict. This paper illuminates the policy conflicts which arise when local-level research and development initiatives interface with the effects of macro-policy-initiated changes and safety-net interventions. Using a participatory agricultural research project in Eastern Kenya as a case study, the paper describes specific household food-security problem diagnosis and a range of research interventions planned within a more sustainable rural livelihoods framework. Working with local farmers, the project implemented a range of applied research and linked development interventions that showed promise in easing food security through a broadening of the livelihood base. Some of these initiatives were carried further through the local farmers' own initiative. The conclusion is that semi-arid areas, despite views that see these as low-potential and obvious safety-net candidates, often have potential for agricultural intensification and increased productivity. However, to ensure that research results are utilised and farmers have access to new technology and markets, there is a need for external or public-sector support to integrated longer-term development initiatives. This may require rethinking the scope of research and development approaches, particularly removing unhelpful boundaries between research, extension and development functions, and increasing farmer participation in the whole process-if possible as part of a less centralised and more household-oriented approach to food-security policy and strategy.
Nations are becoming increasingly dependent upon internationally traded food products, often at the expense of traditional agricultural commodities. As the focus shifts to high value-added imports and exports, regulations targeting the food safety attributes of these products are increasingly cited as a source of potential non-tariff barriers to trade. To counter such concerns, various bilateral and multilateral efforts to demonstrate the integrity of the regulatory systems under which these foods are produced are taking centre stage. Little analysis of the relative efficacy of such rapprochement efforts exists. This paper therefore discusses the impacts food safety regulation can have on the growth in food trade by presenting a review of key regulatory rapprochement efforts targeting them. The GATT SPS Agreement in particular is discussed. Recent disputes centring on the impacts of food safety regulations are also reviewed to suggest how GATT commitments are being interpreted and enforced. This discussion highlights potential road-blocs to additional trade facilitation and evaluates if a 'hard law' system now exists.
This paper measures the current gap in food consumption between dietary guidelines and estimated food intakes. Information on the adherence of the US diet to the guidelines comes from two sources: the Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals (CSFII) and the USDA's annual Food Supply Data (FSD) Series. We review previous studies and supplement these with our own analysis of the 1994 CSFII and Food Supply data with Food Guide Pyramid serving recommendations. These analyses show that the greatest relative gaps occur in the fruit and dairy groups, and added sugars; smaller gaps exist for the other food groups. We also consider how future demographic changes will influence the size of these gaps. If current dietary patterns are maintained in each category of age, sex, and ethnicity, then we project substantial future increases in the gap at the aggregate food supply level for most food groups. The magnitude of the gap between current intakes and the Pyramid recommendations suggests the need for continued increases in agricultural productivity, higher resource use, and greater levels of international trade if the gap is to be closed.
Agricultural production has harmed environmental quality primarily because of inadequately designed policies and natural resource projects. Hence, most of the harmful side effects of agriculture can be reduced or eliminated by replacing these 'bad' institutions with policies and projects that create financial (dis)incentives for (un)desirable behavior. Provided appropriate policies are followed, environmental constraints should not keep people from meeting nutritional standards that emphasize more fruits, vegetables, and fish. Nutritional well-being can be achieved with policies and projects that give people sufficient access to food that has been produced with methods that minimize adverse impacts on the environment.
The good news from prevention research is that it appears possible to dramatically improve health in the US by changing identified risk factors. The goal of this paper is to discuss how to evaluate the economic consequences of improvements in nutrition- and exercise-related health. Cost-benefit analysis and the related tools of cost-effectiveness analysis and cost-utility analysis are proposed as preferred methods. The decision rule is simply if the sum of the potential gains to all those affected by a policy intervention exceed the sum of costs, there is a potential gain in societal welfare. By this standard, preventive interventions can be worthwhile even when they do not reduce lifetime medical expenditures or increase lifetime earnings, that is, even when the intervention is not a 'free lunch.' The distinction between the internal costs for an individual patient versus the external costs an individual's illness imposes on others is an important conceptual issue. Practical issues include determining whether a poor health habit causes the costs and other results being attributed to it, and the completeness of the analysis. In principle, the analysis should examine all of the effects and resource costs of the intervention, including changes in morbidity, mortality, the quality of life, allocations of patient time and caregiving by others, as well as traditional health sector costs and changes in productivity. Improvements in nutrition- and exercise-related health may also have important implications for public sector finances of programs, including Medicare and Social Security.
This paper discussed how government policy shapes the information environment in which consumers make food choices. Government's most important information role may be in supporting the production of basic scientific knowledge about the relationships between diet and health. Government also plays a role in education and in shaping the types of information available to consumers. Among the issues highlighted by the author are the importance of incentives in determining the types of products offered for sale, the key role of scientific uncertainty and the dynamic nature of the diet-health knowledge in shaping regulatory choices, and finally, the importance of recognizing consumer heterogeneity in assessing the success of regulatory rules and other government initiatives.
Developing long-term strategies for improving food security, alleviating poverty and encouraging sound use of natural resources is fundamental for sustained economic growth in Central Asia. However, the process of policy and institutional reforms has been complex and slow. This paper, based on several rounds of client consultation, attempts to synthesize emerging issues and challenges that confront food and agricultural sectors in Central Asia. It argues that developing institutions that will foster a policy dialogue on long-term issues related to food, agriculture and the environment within and among the Central Asian countries is fundamental to identify development strategies for the next 10 to 15 years. This will require setting priorities for future food, agriculture, and natural resource policy research and analysis that will help in generating and sharing information on the policy challenges and solutions useful for Central Asia in its quest to reduce malnutrition, eradicate poverty and protect the natural resource base.
This study examines the factors affecting perceptions by US consumers about the importance of following each type of healthy diet recommendation based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Results generally suggest that individuals from the Northeast and non-metropolitan areas, males, less educated, not on a special diet, and those who have a lower perception of the overall importance of nutrition when food shopping are generally less likely than their counterparts to perceive individual diet recommendations as important. Income, age, and body mass index also are significant factors for some individual healthy diet recommendations. Understanding consumers' perceptions about the importance of choosing healthy diets is an important preliminary step in changing dietary behavior and nutrition policies. Given worldwide trends toward Westernized diets and resulting increases in related health problems, the findings of this study may have relevance not only in the US but also globally.