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Economic of Food Saftey in Developing Countries

Economic of Food Saftey in Developing Countries

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Published by: Daisy on Nov 17, 2008
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The Economics of Food Safety inDeveloping Countries
Spencer Henson
ESA Working Paper No. 03-19
December 2003
Agricultural and Development Economics Division
The Food and Agriculture Organizationof the United Nations
ESA Working Paper No. 03-19
The Economics of Food Safety in DevelopingCountries
December 2003
 Spencer Henson
Department of Agricultural Economics & BusinessUniversity of Guelphe-mail: shenson@uoguelph.ca
This paper aims to provide an overview of issues associated with the economics of food safety in developing countries. It is intended to highlight the major questionsand concerns associated with an economic analysis of food safety issues, bothgenerally and specifically in a developing country context. Thus, it provides anoverview of these issues and highlights key references for readers that wish toexplore these issues in greater depth.The paper provides a basic over view of what is meant by food safety, highlightingthe main hazards potentially associated with food. It assesses the burden imposedon developing countries, both in terms of rates of human morbidity and prematuremortality and the economic and social costs imposed on developing societies. In sodoing, the paucity of data on the magnitude of food-borne illness in developingcountries is highlighted. The ways in which markets may fail to provide for anappropriate level of food safety, and thus the case for government regulation, arethan discussed. Much of the remainder of the paper than explores the key elementsof food safety capacity and analysis attempts by developing country governments toenhance their capacity in strategic areas in some depth. It concludes by suggestingpositive ways forward through which the capacity of developing countries to managefood safety, both for the protection of their domestic populations and promotion of trade in agricultural and food products, can be enhanced.
Key Words:
Health, Economic Development, Agriculture
I18, 019, Q17, Q18
The designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do notimply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and AgricultureOrganization of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.
Page 1
The Economics of Food Safety in Developing Countries
In recent years, there have been heightened concerns about food safety, not only amongst scientists with an interest in food toxicology or microbiology, for example, butalso economists and other social scientists that focus on the wider socio-economic issuesassociated with the safety of a country’s food supply. In part this reflects the realincidence of food-borne illnesses world-wide, and in part consumer concerns about thesafety of the food they consume, particularly in industrialised countries, often fuelled by media attention. An added dimension is the impact of food safety regulations on globaltrade in agricultural and food products. In some ways there is a stark contrast betweenindustrialised and developing countries, although in both contexts the incidence of food-borne diseases (in particular those associated with microbial pathogens) is acknowledgedto be considerable. Whilst this paper will highlight these differences and similarities, itsprimary focus is on the economics of food safety, specifically in a developing country context.In industrialised countries, whilst food supplies are generally considered to be safe,evidence suggests that food-borne illnesses are prevalent and that the incidence of certainfood-borne pathogens is increasing. For example, more than 40 different food-bornepathogens are known to cause human illness (Buzby 
et al.
, 2001). Significant incidents of contaminated meat, dairy products, salads and canned goods, although relatively infrequent, send signals to consumers that the food they purchase is not risk-free. Inmany cases only small groups of consumers are directly affected by the events, yetpublicized food scares create an environment, through a process of ‘social amplification’,in which food safety is an increasingly widespread and pressing concern. Whilst it is recognised that the prevelance of food-borne illness in developing countries isconsiderable, in most there is limited data through which the incidence of particulardiseases and trends over time can be assessed. In many cases, high rates of food-borneillness are associated with low levels of general economic development and, morespecifically, limited capacity to control the safety of the food supply. Further, there areclose inter-relationships between food safety issues and other elements of environmentalhealth, for example sanitation, water quality and housing conditions.

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