Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Agriculture, Food and Environment


Agricultural Economics

First Advisor

Dr. Yuqing Zheng

Second Advisor

Dr. Timonthy A. Woods


In the first essay, we provide a comprehensive literature review of the market of private food safety standards. Since the inception of private food safety standards in the late 1990s, producers, processors, retailers, and governments have been increasingly relying on them to provide assurances to food safety. This article first develops a conceptual framework for the market of private food safety standards through the lens of agri-food supply chain logistics, outlining how the key players in the market interact and classifying these interactions into fifteen categories. Second, we classify and review studies based on the interactions identified. Our review supports the identification of research gaps in this relatively new, though already important, area of research in contemporary agribusiness. In the second essay, we aim to examine whether private food safety certification has a significant impact on food safety outcomes in the meat, poultry, and egg product industry. We merge manufacturer-level data from the governmental and private sectors and obtain a unique panel dataset that identifies manufacturer-level information such as private food safety certification status and food safety outcomes. We detect separation issues caused by rare event in our dataset, thus, we adopt the penalized maximum likelihood method. Using the pathogen results from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) sampling programs as the measurement of food safety outcomes, we find that the British Retail Consortium (BRC) certification is negatively associated with Salmonella and Campylobacter test results; Safe Quality Food (SQF) is negatively correlated with Campylobacter and Listeria test results. We do not find significant results for the pathogens E. coli and non-O157 STECs. The third essay examines relationship-specific learning-by-doing in the private food safety certification market. Relationship-specific learning refers to the efficiency gains caused by the human capital accumulation specific to the pair of a manufacturer and the certification body working together. Using data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC), we find that the time for obtaining a BRC certification reduces not only with the increase of manufacturers’ overall experience certifying with BRC standard but also with the increase of joint experience between manufacturers and their certification bodies. The results indicate that relationship-specific learning exists in the process of getting BRC certifications, and it will potentially reduce the time and costs of obtaining BRC certifications and thus improve efficiency.

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