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Systemic failure in the provision of safe food

  • Hennessy, David A.
  • Roosen, Jutta
  • Jensen, Helen H.

Many deficiencies in the capacity of a food system to deliver safe products are systemic in nature. We suggest a taxonomy of four general ways in which a systemic failure might occur. One relates to the connectedness, or topology, of the system. Another arises from mistrust on the part of downstream parties concerning signals on product attributes, production processes, and the performance of regulatory mechanisms. A third arises when asymmetric information leads to low incentives for preserving food quality. Finally, inflexibilities in adapting to different states of nature may leave the system vulnerable to failures. Innovations in information technology and institutional design may ameliorate many problems, while appropriate trade, industrial organization, science, and public infrastructure policies also may fortify the system.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Food Policy.

Volume (Year): 28 (2003)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 77-96

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:28:y:2003:i:1:p:77-96
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/foodpol

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  1. Collins, E. J. T., 1993. "Food adulteration and food safety in Britain in the 19th and early 20th centuries," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 95-109, April.
  2. Maskin, Eric & Tirole, Jean, 1999. "Two Remarks on the Property-Rights Literature," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(1), pages 139-49, January.
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  4. Hennessy, David A. & Roosen, Jutta & Miranowski, John, 2001. "Leadership and the Provision of Safe Food," Staff General Research Papers 10549, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
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  7. Swinbank, Alan, 1993. "The economics of food safety," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 83-94, April.
  8. von Amsberg, Joachim, 1995. "Excessive environmental risks: An intergenerational market failure," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(8), pages 1447-1464, October.
  9. Holleran, Erin & Bredahl, Maury E. & Zaibet, Lokman, 1999. "Private incentives for adopting food safety and quality assurance," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(6), pages 669-683, December.
  10. Loader, Rupert & Hobbs, Jill E., 1999. "Strategic responses to food safety legislation," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(6), pages 685-706, December.
  11. Akerlof, George A, 1970. "The Market for 'Lemons': Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500, August.
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