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The high cost of food safety

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foodFood safety, especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables, has been a big concern over the past decade – and for good reason.

Studies show in the United States the number of annual reported foodborne illness outbreaks more than doubled from 1997 to 2008, and there were 100 recalls of raw food products in 2012 alone.

That prompted Congress to pass the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), giving the Food and Drug Administration the ability to enforce new, stricter controls and procedures industry-wide. Other organizations adopted their own safety procedures. One big problem? It’s expensive. But there could be something else that comes at a must larger cost.

That’s the focus of the paper “Foodborne Illness Outbreaks, Collective Reputation, and Voluntary Adoption of Industry-wide Food Safety by Fruit and Vegetable Growers” by Aaron Adalja and Erik Lichtenberg of the University of Maryland.

“As a grower you’re somewhat anonymous and implementing food safety can be a costly endeavor,” Adalja said. “You incur 100 percent of the cost but you don’t get 100 percent of the benefit.”

What spurs growers to take steps keeping food safe while saving their bottom line? Adalja will present his paper as part of the 2016 Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) Annual Meeting in Boston July 31 – August 2. T

he presentation is Monday, August 1, at 2:45 PM at the Marriott Copley Square, in Salon A on the fourth floor.

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