Consumers will reach a limit to how much they want to pay to reduce their chances of getting sick.
Government regulators could more realistically assess the value of improving food safety if they considered the fact that consumers typically want to avoid getting sick – even if it means they have to pay a little extra for safer food, researchers say.
In the world of food regulation, cost-benefit analyses are a primary tool for assessing the societal benefits of mandating more stringent – and more expensive – processing practices. In most cases, regulators determine a dollar value associated with pursuing new rules by estimating how many illnesses and deaths the safer processing would prevent.
But, a recent study proposes a new way to approach these estimates. Instead of focusing on reducing food-borne illnesses and deaths associated with a specific pathogen, why not ask consumers how valuable food-safety improvements are to them? The researchers conducted such a national survey that they designed with the help of an economic model that predicts consumer behavior.
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