Improving Food Safety through Self-Regulation: Exploring the Applicability of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) System to the Spinach and Peanut Industries

By A. Bryce Hoflund and Michelle Pautz.

Published by Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal

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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.

Keywords: Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, Food Safety, Self-Regulation

Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp.17-30. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 383.897KB).

Dr. A. Bryce Hoflund

Assistant Professor, School of Public Administration, University of Nebraska, Omaha, NE, USA

A. Bryce Hoflund is an assistant professor in the School of Public Administration at the University of Nebraska Omaha. Her research focuses on health care regulation, food safety regulation, network organizations, and network management and leadership. She has published her work in Regulation & Governance, Administration & Society, Public Organization Review, and the Journal of Health and Human Services Research and Administration.

Dr. Michelle Pautz

Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio, USA

Michelle Pautz is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Dayton where she teaches undergraduates and Masters of Public Administration students. Her research focuses primarily on regulatory interactions, particularly in the environmental policy arena. Her work has appeared in Administrative Theory & Praxis, Administration & Society, Journal of Environmental Studies & Sciences, Policy Studies Journal, and the Review of Policy Research, among others.