This paper discusses the issue of foodborne disease and international trade in food products from an economic perspective.
Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that each year diseases caused by food in the United States may
cause an estimated 325,000 serious illnesses resulting in hospitalizations, 76 million cases of gastrointestinal illnesses, and 5,000
deaths each year. These diseases pose an economic burden on society: Medical costs and productivity losses from in the U.S. diseases
caused by four major microbial pathogens alone are $8.3 billion annually. Food safety concerns may also affect trade in food products.
Foodborne disease outbreaks may have lead to significant economic losses in some segments of the food sector, and lead to calls for
increased protection from imported food safety risks through application of more stringent sanitary and phytosanitary rules. The new
framework for adjudicating trade disputes under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade allows measures to protect the public
from food safety risks on imported foods, but not to if such measures create unnecessary trade barriers. Creating multinational trading
rules that accommodate the diverse economic, cultural, and political concerns of trading partners is difficult, but new approaches to
risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis of trade policies can help promote both free trade and safer food supplies.
Crutchfield, S, et.al. The Economics of Food Safety and International Trade in Food Products. In: Microbehavior and Macroresults:Proceedings of the Tenth Biennial Conference of the International Institute ofFisheries Economics and Trade, July 10-14, 2000, Corvallis, Oregon, USA.Compiled by Richard S. Johnston and Ann L. Shriver. InternationalInstitute of Fisheries Economics and Trade (IIFET), Corvallis, 2001.