Research Planning for Food Safety

A Value-of-Information Approach

by James K. Hammitt, Jonathan Cave


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This report describes methods for setting priorities among research projects, particularly those related to food safety. The underlying principle is that research projects should be evaluated in terms of the "expected value of information." Using this approach, research results are valued to the extent that they enable government, food producers, and consumers to alter their behavior and ultimately their food consumption patterns in ways that improve social welfare. Two classes of methods are presented, involving subjective ratings on multiattribute scales and probabilistic modeling of research outcomes. These methods are illustrated by application to two case studies: aflatoxin contamination of grains and dichloromethane residues in decaffeinated coffee.

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