Research Planning for Food Safety

Preliminary Methodology and Applications

by James K. Hammitt, Jonathan Cave, M. G. Mustafa, R. Burciaga Valdez


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This Note describes a methodology for evaluating the benefits of research on selected food technologies. The methodology is illustrated by preliminary application to two case studies: (1) aflatoxin contamination of human foods and animal feed, and (2) dichloromethane use for decaffeination of coffee. Based on the decision-theoretic concept of the "expected value of information," the methodology measures the value of a research program in terms of the improvement in objective outcomes that can be attained by performing the research before selecting policy. The methodology draws on a wide range of decision-theoretic techniques, giving it broad applicability. Its greatest advantages, however, may be the explicit consideration of policy alternatives and scientific uncertainties it forces on decisionmakers, and the recognition that the value of research is a joint product of the scientific power of the inquiry and the policy relevance of the results.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Note series. The note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

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