Discusses the financial implications of maintaining acceptable levels of food safety. The case of BSE is used as an example ‐ loss of export market, fall in domestic sales, changes in consumption, large expenditure, cost of practice changes in rearing and slaughtering animals. There is a trade‐off between safety and costs. How much safety can be expected? There must be an optimum level of safety. There are few ways in which a market economy can “fail” in providing the optimum ‐ asymmetry in knowledge of risks; aspects of food safety which are public goods; social costs of food safety and the divergence between objective scientific evidence and consumer perception.
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