How should the health benefits of food safety programs be measured?


Smith, V. K., Mansfield, C., & Strong, A. (2014). How should the health benefits of food safety programs be measured? In G. C. Blomquist, & K. Bolin (Eds.), Preference Measurement in Health (Advances in Health Economics and Health Services Research Series, Vol. 24) (pp. 161-202). Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing Ltd.. DOI: 10.1108/S0731-2199_2014_0000024005


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.