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Economics Of Food Labeling

  • Golan, Elise H.
  • Kuchler, Fred
  • Mitchell, Lorraine

Federal intervention in food labeling is often proposed with the aim of achieving a social goal such as improving human health and safety, mitigating environmental hazards, averting international trade disputes, or supporting domestic agricultural and food manufacturing industries. Economic theory suggests, however, that mandatory food-labeling requirements are best suited to alleviating problems of asymmetric information and are rarely effective in redressing environmental or other spillovers associated with food production and consumption. Theory also suggests that the appropriate role for government in labeling depends on the type of information involved and the level and distribution of the costs and benefits of providing that information. This report traces the economic theory behind food labeling and presents three case studies in which the government has intervened in labeling and two examples in which government intervention has been proposed.

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File URL: http://purl.umn.edu/34069
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Paper provided by United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service in its series Agricultural Economics Reports with number 34069.

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Date of creation: 2000
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Handle: RePEc:ags:uerser:34069
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  1. Giancarlo Moschini & Harvey Lapan & Andrei Sobolevsky, 2000. "Roundup ready´┐Ż soybeans and welfare effects in the soybean complex," Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(1), pages 33-55.
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  7. Wesley A. Magat & W. Kip Viscusi, 1992. "Informational Approaches to Regulation," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026213277x, June.
  8. Nelson, Phillip, 1970. "Information and Consumer Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(2), pages 311-29, March-Apr.
  9. Variyam, Jayachandran N. & Blaylock, James R. & Smallwood, David, 1995. "Modeling Nutrient Intake: The Role of Dietary Information," Technical Bulletins 156772, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  10. Eliza M. Mojduszka & Julie A. Caswell, 2000. "A Test of Nutritional Quality Signaling in Food Markets Prior to Implementation of Mandatory Labeling," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 82(2), pages 298-309.
  11. Gary D. Thompson & Julia Kidwell, 1998. "Explaining the Choice of Organic Produce: Cosmetic Defects, Prices, and Consumer Preferences," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 80(2), pages 277-287.
  12. Ippolito, Pauline M & Mathios, Alan D, 1995. "Information and Advertising: The Case of Fat Consumption in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 91-95, May.
  13. Steve Salop, 1976. "Information and monopolistic competition," Special Studies Papers 74, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  14. Salop, Steven, 1976. "Information and Monopolistic Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(2), pages 240-45, May.
  15. Pauline M. Ippolito & Alan D. Mathios, 1990. "Information, Advertising and Health Choices: A Study of the Cereal Market," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(3), pages 459-480, Autumn.
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