Improving Food Safety through Self-Regulation: Experiences with Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) Systems in the Produce Industries

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Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal


Recent years have seen a plethora of incidents in the United States that have called attention to food safety, including spinach, peanut, lettuce, and ground beef recalls. Unsurprisingly in the wake of these recalls, the propensity has been to advocate for additional government regulation. This proclivity begs the question, however, is more reform what is needed? The food safety regulatory system in the U.S. is massive and fragmented; are more regulations the answer to ensuring the safety of food? Skeptics may argue that the only way to ensure the food processing industry is kept in line is through rigid regulations and that they are unlikely to voluntarily do anything. Through elite interviews with food safety professionals in government, industry, and interest groups, we have uncovered a growing movement for adopting self-regulatory mechanisms to ensure food safety. In particular, we examine the application of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system. We argue that instead of passing more regulations, we should look to these self-regulatory mechanisms as feasible options for ensuring the safety of food in the U.S. As we have learned in other regulatory arenas, self-regulatory mechanisms enable traditionally adversarial actors to come together and work collectively towards a common goal in partnership. In this paper, we explore the applicability, strengths and challenges of adopting this self-regulatory approach to the produce industry. This case study buttresses our argument for embracing more self-regulatory practices in ensuring food safety.

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Article is the winner of the International Award for Excellence from the Food Studies Journal for the best article of 2013.





Peer Reviewed