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How Should the Health Benefits of Food Safety Programs Be Measured?

Preference Measurement in Health

ISBN: 978-1-78441-029-2

Publication date: 27 August 2014



This chapter reports estimates of consumers’ preferences for plans to improve food safety.


The plans are distinguished based on whether they address the ex ante risk of food borne illness or the ex post effects of the illness. They are also distinguished based on whether they focus on a public good – reducing risk of illness for all consumers or allowing individual households to reduce their private risks of contracting a food borne pathogen.


Based on a National Survey conducted in 2007 using the Knowledge Network internet panel, our findings indicate consumers favor ex ante risk reductions and are willing to pay approximately $250 annually to reduce the risk of food borne illness. Moreover, they prefer private to public approaches and would not support efforts to reduce the severity of cases of illness over risk reductions.


This study is the first research that allows a comparison of survey respondents’ choices between public and private mechanisms for ex ante risk reductions.




Thanks are due two anonymous referees and Glenn C. Blomquist for very constructive comments on an earlier draft. In addition we want to thank F. Reed Johnson and Barbara Kanninen for assistance with the development of the experimental design for the survey, to Laurel Clayton, Eric Moore, Jonathan Eyer, and Garth Baughman for excellent research assistance and Shauna Mortensen for preparing several versions of the manuscript. Partial support for this research was provided by the W. P. Carey School of Business and by the United States Department of Homeland Security through the Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE) under grant numbers 2007-ST-061-000001 and DE-AC05-76RL01830. However, any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect views of the United States Department of Homeland Security.


Smith, V.K., Mansfield, C. and Strong, A. (2014), "How Should the Health Benefits of Food Safety Programs Be Measured?", Preference Measurement in Health (Advances in Health Economics and Health Services Research, Vol. 24), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 161-202.



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