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Abstract

Business and consumer demand for private, third-party, and public systems that audit and certify food safety is growing both domestically and internationally. As it has been proposed that third-party certification systems be used to help assure the safety of imported food products governed by FSMA, demand for these standards is likely to further increase. It is unknown, however, to what extent the food safety certification industry has the capacity to accommodate this expanding demand. This is particularly true of regions where third-party firms which provide audits to food safety standards (certification bodies), do not have a large presence. This study offers a first, in-depth, and comprehensive effort at assessing the industrial organization of global food safety certification industry. Using a unique dataset developed for this study, we inventory the food safety certification industry and the firms that certify individual farms, food processors, and food manufacturers to a broad range of national and international food safety standards. An assessment of the geographic distribution of certification bodies is then undertaken to identify areas in potential need of additional food safety certification capacity. Implications of these findings are considered.

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