Determining and Evaluating Cost-Effective Food Safety Risk Reduction Strategies at Retail Meat Facilities
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In spite of the documented success of Pathogen Reduction and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (PR/HACCP) at the processing level, farm-level and retail-level application is optional. Several factors impact the gap of food safety regulations from farm to fork. This thesis focuses on the retail level. At the retail level, pathogen survival and the associated ability to cause further disease to humans even after being subjected to certain processing and packaging conditions have varying implications on the probability of sickness or death. This issue also arises over the fact that, sometimes, appropriate handling and processing instructions are not properly followed by consumers. The primary goals of the project are to develop an optimal food safety intervention strategy that incorporates risk, cost, and the value of pathogen reduction with alternative control mechanism. We wish to evaluate incentives for PR/HACCP-like planning and adherence to best management practices that promote safe food production. These incentives will be evaluated for the retail level. In addition, we will develop optimal intervention strategies for ready-to-eat meats and poultry products that incorporate risk assessment, cost of intervention, and the value of risk reduction of alternative strategies for the farm-to-table continuum. The model adopted in this study is an expansion of the stochastic optimization model developed by Nganje, Kaitibie, and Sorin (2005) to include the optimal intervention strategy at the retail ( consumer) level. These components are simulated with firm-level microbial data at the processing and retail level using stochastic optimizer software. Stochastic dominance was also used to compare across the optimal strategies and determine if there is one clear choice that is preferred. This allowed us incorporate risk preferences of firms. The scenario method was used to determine what factors would likely affect the adoption of PR/HACCP at the retail level. Finally, this thesis provides firms and policymakers a direction for future options concerning risk mitigation strategies.