Benefits from safer animal food products: preliminary results from a contingent valuation study of Italian households The social cost of food scares has been the object of substantial applied research worldwide. In Italy, meat and dairy products are often the vectors of food-borne pathogens, and this is well known by the public. Most cases of food contamination and poisoning find their causes in the way food is handled after, rather than before
purchase. However, a large fraction is still caused by mishandling at the industrial stage. With this in mind, we set out to estimate Italian households’ willingness to pay (wtp) for a reduction in the risk of meat and dairy food contamination using contingent valuation. The survey design incorporated features specifically conceived to overcome difficulties faced in previous survey research, especially with respect to individualized food expenditures and risk communication. In order to achieve this objective a capi (computer-assisted personal interview) survey was devised to tackle two major issues which emerged in previous contingent valuation studies. The first issue is connected to the way of communicating risk to consumers in order to allow them to make optimal choices and the second one to the results deriving from these studies. In fact, estimates from contingent valuation regarding food safety are given just for
single products and so marketers may find it hard to extrapolate them to the aggregate. Our results show that in Italy there are segments of consumers who would benefit from higher standards of food safety for farm animal products.