Do Inspection and Traceability Provide Incentives for Food Safety?

By: Starbird, S. Andrew; Amanor-Boadu, Vincent


Starbird, S. Andrew; Amanor-Boadu, Vincent, Do Inspection and Traceability Provide Incentives for Food Safety?, Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Volume 31, Issue 1, April 2006, Pages 14-26

One of the goals of inspection and traceability is to motivate suppliers to deliver safer food. The ability of these policies to motivate suppliers depends on the accuracy of the inspection, the cost of failing inspection, the cost of causing a foodborne illness, and the proportion of these costs paid by the supplier. We develop a model of the supplier's expected cost as a function of inspection accuracy, the cost of failure, and the proportion of the failure cost that is allocated to suppliers. The model is used to identify the conditions under which the supplier is motivated to deliver uncontaminated lots. Surprisingly, our results show that when safety failure costs can be allocated to suppliers, minimum levels of inspection error are required to motivate a supplier to deliver uncontaminated lots. This result does not hold when costs cannot be allocated to suppliers. As a case study, we use our results to analyze the technical requirements for suppliers of frozen beef to the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service.