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Traceability, Liability, and Incentives for Food Safety and Quality

  • Pouliot, Sebastien
  • Sumner, Daniel A.

Recent food scares such as the discoveries of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy and E. coli-contaminated spinach have heightened interest in food traceability. Here, we show how exogenous increases in food traceability create incentives for farms and marketing firms to supply safer food by increasing liability costs. We model a stylized marketing chain composed of farms, marketers, and consumers. Unsafe food for consumers can be caused by either marketers or farms. We show that food safety declines with the number of farms and marketers and imperfect traceability from consumers to marketers dampens liability incentives to supply safer food by farms. Copyright 2008, Oxford University Press.

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Paper provided by Iowa State University, Department of Economics in its series Staff General Research Papers with number 32126.

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Date of creation: 16 Nov 2010
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Publication status: Published in American Journal of Agricultural Economics, February 2008, vol. 90 no. 1, pp. 15-27
Handle: RePEc:isu:genres:32126
Contact details of provider: Postal: Iowa State University, Dept. of Economics, 260 Heady Hall, Ames, IA 50011-1070
Phone: +1 515.294.6741
Fax: +1 515.294.0221
Web page: http://www.econ.iastate.eduEmail:


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  1. Brian Roe, 2004. "Optimal Sharing of Foodborne Illness Prevention between Consumers and Industry: The Effect of Regulation and Liability," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 86(2), pages 359-374.
  2. Hiriart, Yolande & Martimort, David & Pouyet, Jerome, 2004. "On the optimal use of ex ante regulation and ex post liability," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 231-235, August.
  3. Frenzen, Paul D. & Buzby, Jean C. & Rasco, Barbara, 2001. "Product Liability And Microbial Foodborne Illness," Agricultural Economics Reports 34059, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  4. Jill E. Hobbs & DeeVon Bailey & David L. Dickinson & Morteza Haghiri, 2005. "Traceability in the Canadian Red Meat Sector: Do Consumers Care?," Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics/Revue canadienne d'agroeconomie, Canadian Agricultural Economics Society/Societe canadienne d'agroeconomie, vol. 53(1), pages 47-65, 03.
  5. A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 1999. "The Economic Theory of Public Enforcement of Law," NBER Working Papers 6993, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Hobbs, Jill E., 2004. "Traceability in the Canadian Red Meat Sector," Economic and Market Information 55304, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
  7. Kolstad, Charles D & Ulen, Thomas S & Johnson, Gary V, 1990. "Ex Post Liability for Harm vs. Ex Ante Safety Regulation: Substitutes or Complements?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(4), pages 888-901, September.
  8. Golan, Elise H. & Krissoff, Barry & Kuchler, Fred & Calvin, Linda & Nelson, Kenneth E. & Price, Gregory K., 2004. "Traceability In The U.S. Food Supply: Economic Theory And Industry Studies," Agricultural Economics Reports 33939, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  9. Marcel Boyer & Donatella Porrini, 2002. "Modeling the Choice Between Regulation and Liability in Terms of Social Welfare," CIRANO Working Papers 2002s-13, CIRANO.
  10. Buzby, Jean C. & Frenzen, Paul D., 1999. "Food safety and product liability," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(6), pages 637-651, December.
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