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Economics of traceability for mitigation of food recall costs

Resende-Filho, Moises and Buhr, Brian (2007): Economics of traceability for mitigation of food recall costs.

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Traceability of food products and particularly meats is increasingly advocated as a means to provide consumer confidence in credence attributes (e.g., range fed, organic, country of origin) as well as for improved quality control. In the case of food safety, where there are failures in testing and there is not likely to be zero failure rates, traceability may also improve the overall process efficiency and cost effectiveness of recalls. This study relies on case observations to develop a general conceptual model of traceability for food product recall. This conceptual model incorporates quality control in a vertical food supply chain and identifies key factors (e.g. the nature of contamination event and shelf-life of the product) that affect the cost-benefit of traceability in a risk context. Our conceptual model is adapted and parameterized for the context of a simulated recall due to E. coli in ground beef. The results of our simulations indicate that traceability might be valuable in terms of its return in saved recall costs. In addition, the effect of improved quality control measures on the traceability value is simulated and discussed. The simulated results indicate that improved quality controls and traceability seem to be substitutes. Despite this, we argue that traceability might improve information as to the source of quality control failure and therefore might play a complimentary role in achieving quality control improvements.

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