Analysis of HACCP Costs and Benefits

RCED-96-62R: Published: Feb 29, 1996. Publicly Released: Feb 29, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO evaluated: (1) the Food Safety and Inspection Service's (FSIS) estimates of the costs and benefits of implementing Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) procedures to control microbial contamination in meat and poultry plants; (2) how the costs of implementation would be distributed through the industry; and (3) how the costs of implementation would be distributed among producers, plants, and consumers. GAO found that: (1) FSIS reasonably estimated the costs and benefits of implementing HACCP procedures and determined that the benefits outweighed the costs; (2) other studies have supported that conclusion; (3) HACCP costs vary by plant size and type and by industry sector; (4) plants with less than $2.5 million in annual sales would be most affected, as would plants that process meat rather than poultry; (5) it is difficult to estimate who would ultimately bear the cost of HACCP implementation, but one study suggested that in the long term, consumers would likely bear all of the costs; and (6) if consumers absorbed the entire cost of HACCP implementation, it would cost each consumer less than 50 cents annually, based on average per capita consumption and present retail prices.

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