Date of Graduation

12-2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Agricultural Economics (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness

Advisor

Michael R. Thomsen

Committee Member

Bruce L. Dixon

Second Committee Member

Rodolfo M. Nayga, Jr.

Third Committee Member

Michael Ollinger

Keywords

Social sciences; Count data model; Food safety; Media coverage; Product recall

Abstract

Food safety is an important public health issue. Product recalls are an important part of the overall food safety system and occur when potentially unsafe products enter the marketplace. However, it is important that information about the recall ultimately reaches the public. This research assesses the publicity that recalls receive by the popular media. The focus is specifically on recalls of meat and poultry products. Publicity is measured by coverage in the AP Newswire. Data were gathered from the United States Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and cover meat and poultry recalls from 1982 to 2009. These data were then matched to stories on product recalls from the AP Newswire to arrive at article counts for each recall event. The data compiled indicate that roughly 25 percent of meat and poultry recalls receive at least one story in the Newswire. Count data models were estimated to identify characteristics that make a meat and/or poultry recall event more likely to be publicized. Article counts were expressed as a function of recall characteristics. In particular, this study utilized the zero-inflated negative binomial and zero-inflated Poisson models. Results suggest that the volume of product recalled is a major driver of media coverage. Large recalls are more likely to receive coverage and are covered more intensively than small-volume recalls. In addition, recalls due to the presence of pathogens, especially E. coli O157:H7 and Listeria monocytogenes, receive more publicity than recalls for other reasons. When the problem was discovered by the FSIS, recall events are more frequently covered by the AP Newswire. No significant differences in coverage were observed by the day of the week a recall is announced.

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