Behind the current crises lie economic and technological ramifications in both food and the food supply system. Institutions are rushing to catch up with the implications these changes have for public health risks. The first generation of food safety law was characterized by command and control forms Of safety regulation. Policy was nationally focused and relied on early twentieth-century industrial management practices such as continuous line inspection, visual product inspection, and detailed specification of approved hygiene practices.
At the heart of this second generation of food safety policy is an emerging global consensus on he need for a preventive, public healthfulness policy that fosters integrated management of bedroom hazards from farm-to-fork. This consensus calls for use of modern science-based risk management instruments that enhances efficiency by more accurately targeting public actions and by allowing firms flexibility in how they achieve public health goals rather than relying on narrowly prescriptive command and control policies.
While the broad vision for this second generation of policy is clear, much of the detail has yet to be worked out Economists have a significant role to play in this process. The purpose of this chapter is to orient economists new to this issue. The first part of this chapter provides an overview of the scope of current food safety problems and the food safety policy reforms being adopted to address them around the world.
Current efforts to modernize food safety policy are being shaped by several larger trends: globalization, use of risk analysis and cost-benefit analysis in public administration, and total quality management regimes in industry. The second part of this chapter briefly examines two major roles that public economics * Sandra Hoffmann, fellow, Resources for the Future. Hank my intern, Bill Harder for his help on this paper and Resources for the Future for funding his internship.
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