Assessing State Food Safety Performance Under FDA Contracts: The Public Health Implications of State Variations in a New Regulatory Regime
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
This paper is designed to formally analyze the performance and public health implications of FDA’s increasing reliance on state contracts for food safety regulation. Through a multiple method design, and using newly acquired CDC data that details foodborne illness outbreaks over 14 years, we use multivariate analysis to analyze the relationship between states’ regulatory capacities and food safety performance. We address the following questions: To what extent does variation across states’ food safety regulatory capacities affect reporting rates of foodborne illness outbreaks? Are outbreaks of foodborne illness that occur in states with greater regulatory capacity more confined – i.e. do they affect fewer people – than outbreaks in other states? Are states with greater regulatory capacity more likely to identify the cause of outbreaks than other states? What are the policy implications of these performance and outcome variations? Our research incorporates earlier qualitative work on this topic utilizing data, analyzed with NVivo, from 58 semi-structured interviews with federal actors responsible for food safety, officials in state organizations performing inspections under contract, and representatives from stakeholder groups including consumer safety advocates and professional food safety organizations.