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Pathogen Information Is the Basic Problem for Economic Incentives

  • Tanya RobertsEmail author
  • Robert L. Scharff
Chapter
Part of the Food Microbiology and Food Safety book series (FMFS)

Abstract

For the private marketplace to operate efficiently, buyers and sellers require information on products being bought or sold. The information problem for food safety is that pathogens in the food items for sale are not visible to the naked eye. Buyers in the food supply chain, from the farm to the restaurant or supermarket, do not have the “facts” of the current pathogen load of the product. Sellers may also be ignorant, unless they have exerted effort via pathogen testing of their inputs, control of their production/processing processes, and/or sampling and testing their finished food products. The inability to link 999/1,000 cases of US foodborne illness to the causative pathogen, food, and company causes weak incentives for companies to produce safe food. However, public or private actions can create pathogen data in the food supply chain and this data can be used to reward or punish companies for their food safety performance.

Keywords

Economics of information Foodborne pathogens Moral hazard Free riders Economic incentives Statistical process control Food safety Contracts Traceability Third-party audits Pathogen performance standards 

Abbreviations

CDC

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

CIDT

Culture-independent diagnostic tests

DNA

Deoxyribonucleic acid

ERS

Economic Research Service/USDA

FDA

Food and Drug Administration

FSIS

Food Safety and Inspection Service/USDA

FWW

Food and Water Watch

HACCP

Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points

IOM

Institute of Medicine/NAS

LTHO

Long term health outcome

MRC

Mechanically separated chicken

MRSA

Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus

NAS

National Academy of Sciences

NRC

National Research Council/NAS

NSLP

National School Lunch Program

USDA

United States Department of Agriculture

UTI

Urinary tract infection

WGS

Whole-genome sequencing

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Economic Research Service, USDA (retired)Center for Foodborne Illness Research and PreventionVashonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Human SciencesThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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