An important element of food safety policy is the education of consumers about safe food handling, storage, and preparation practices. Policymakers also use information to influence safe production practices. Labeling and education programs are both used to influence consumer and producer behavior.
Information policy involves providing or requiring information about specific product attributes, the proper use of a product, or best production practices. Additionally, policymakers can influence market outcomes through taxes, subsidies, and production and marketing regulations.
ERS studies how labeling information affects food choices and diet quality; this research is relevant not only for nutrition policy but for the design and evaluation of food safety policy. ERS focuses on:
- whether consumers have enough information to make informed food choices,
- what the private sector can do to provide informative food labels,
- what role the public sector can play in providing information, and
- the costs and benefits of mandatory labeling.