Producer Response to Public Disclosure of Food-Safety Information
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Beginning in 2003, the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) put forth a series of Federal Register announcements regarding the public disclosure of results of tests for Salmonella in chicken carcasses. In particular, FSIS suggested in 2003 that it might disclose the identities of any slaughter or ground meat plant failing its Salmonella tests if test performance did not improve, and in 2004 the service increased regulatory scrutiny of plants not meeting FSIS Salmonella standards. In 2006, FSIS introduced a more easily-understood measure of food-safety quality and indicated that public disclosure would be forthcoming if results of tests for Salmonella did not improve; FSIS targeted the chicken-slaughter industry with a high degree of specificity. In 2008, FSIS began reporting the names of chicken-slaughter plants with poor performance on tests for Salmonella in chicken carcasses. This article examines the effects of these regulatory actions on Salmonella test outcomes. We find that (1) announcements in 2003 and 2004 were associated with improved performance by the poorest-performing chicken-slaughter plants; (2) the introduction of an easily-understood measure of food-safety quality and the threat of disclosure of the identities of poorly performing plants in 2006 were associated with improved performance by all chicken-slaughter plants; and (3) implementation of a public disclosure program in 2008 was associated with improvements among better-performing chicken-slaughter plants.