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Consumers’ Response When Regulators Are Uncertain About the Source of Foodborne Illness

  • Carlos Arnade


  • Fred Kuchler


  • Linda Calvin


Health and safety officials are sometimes placed in an awkward position: knowing that a foodborne disease outbreak is occurring but not knowing which food is responsible. They have to advise consumers, but relying on ambiguous and evolving information raises the question, how do consumers respond to changing advice? Here, we estimate a model of the retail demand for tomatoes in the USA, accounting for the 2008 events in the USA in which consumers were advised that some types of tomatoes were contaminated with Salmonella bacteria, and later were advised that tomatoes were safe and peppers were not. Using the quantity of news media attention given to the Salmonella issue, we show that consumers generally responded to the advice that tomatoes were contaminated, but did not respond to the declaration that tomatoes were safe. The magnitude of response to contemporaneous news depended on the extent of coverage in previous weeks. Copyright © Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012 (outside the USA) 2013

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Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Consumer Policy.

Volume (Year): 36 (2013)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 17-36

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Handle: RePEc:kap:jcopol:v:36:y:2013:i:1:p:17-36
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  1. Alain Carpentier & Hervé Guyomard, 2001. "Unconditional Elasticities in Two-Stage Demand Systems: An Approximate Solution," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 83(1), pages 222-229.
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  4. Nicholas E. Piggott & Thomas L. Marsh, 2004. "Does Food Safety Information Impact U.S. Meat Demand?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 86(1), pages 154-174.
  5. Richards, Timothy J. & Patterson, Paul M., 1999. "The Economic Value Of Public Relations Expenditures: Food Safety And The Strawberry Case," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 24(02), December.
  6. T. A. Lloyd & S. McCorriston & C. W. Morgan & A. J. Rayner, 2006. "Food scares, market power and price transmission: the UK BSE crisis," European Review of Agricultural Economics, Foundation for the European Review of Agricultural Economics, vol. 33(2), pages 119-147, June.
  7. Lusk Jayson L, 2010. "The Effect of Proposition 2 on the Demand for Eggs in California," Journal of Agricultural & Food Industrial Organization, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-20, April.
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