Food and Nutrition Policy Research

For more than two decades, our food and nutrition experts have been analyzing and evaluating the effects of policies and regulations affecting food and agriculture to improve the health and well being of our nation. We combine an in-depth understanding of a broad range of food policy topics with extensive quantitative and qualitative research capabilities.

Focus Areas

We conduct food and nutrition policy research across a broad range of focus areas. Examples of projects, presentations, and manuscripts are available in the following areas.

  • Consumer food safety research
  • Economic and cost modeling
  • Food assistance and hunger
  • Food labeling research
  • Food safety and food defense studies
  • Food market analyses
  • Nutrition, physical activity, and obesity studies
  • Scanner data studies


Our research capabilities provide a foundation for addressing the complex and pressing food policy issues affecting our nation's public health and economy. Our research staff offer a full spectrum of research capabilities.

  • Analysis and modeling (compliance cost estimation, consumer demand system modeling, cost-benefit analysis, econometrics, economic modeling)
  • Program and policy evaluation (formative research, process evaluation, outcome/impact evaluation)
  • Education and training (content and curriculum development, training delivery, evaluation of training)
  • Data collection (consumer and industry surveys by telephone/mail/web/in-person, dietary recall and food frequency, expert elicitation, focus groups and in-depth interviews, industry interviews, observation studies, virtual-reality shopping simulator [RTI iSHOPPE™])
  • Other capabilities (community-based participatory research, database design and maintenance, literature reviews, scientific peer reviews)


We conduct research for state, federal, and international regulatory agencies and organizations involved in food, agriculture, and dietary supplements. Our clients have included the following:

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (Agricultural Marketing Service, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Economic Research Service, Food and Nutrition Service, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration)
  • Food and Drug Administration
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • National Institutes of Health
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National commission launched to address hunger in America

In an effort to find ways to help Americans who have difficulty affording sufficient healthy food for themselves and ... Read more »


Mary K. Muth
Director, Food and Nutrition Policy Research
James C. Hersey
Senior Research Psychologist
Sheryl C. Cates
Senior Research Policy Analyst
Chen Zhen
Research Economist, Food and Nutrition Policy Research
Jean Wiecha
Public Health Nutritionist