10/25/2005

Bird Flu Isn't Affecting Consumption

It would make economic sense for something like the bird flu to cause a decrease in demand for poultry. This is true in some European countries, but surprisingly, U.S. consumers do not seem to be affected by the pandemic. Analysts have been worried that news of the bird flu would be damaging to the U.S. poultry industry, but so far chicken consumption has not dropped below the seasonal dip that occurs after summer grilling season is over. We've seen the same thing in the case of mad cow disease. Knowledge of the disease hasn't decreased the consumption of beef in the U.S. either. It's interesting to see the value consumers place on different pieces of information. We know we are at risk of getting sick - possibly even dying - but it doesn't affect our consumption of food. Our utility or benefits outweigh the risk of getting sick.

3 comments:

Elijah said...

I would have to say that i agree with you on this. I don't understand why we (me included!) don't take this information more seriously. I guess we are so used to living comfortably in the U.S. that we think these kinds of things will never happen to us. It will probably take someone dying for everyone to see that this kind of stuff can happen to us, then i think that the market for chicken or beef or whatever, will start to decline.

Logan said...

I think that the bird flu will get attention when thousands of Americans begin to get sick. We don't listen to warnings, or else we feel that we are exempt, until those around us start to become ill. When this begins to happen, watch out chicken farmers!

Dr. Tufte said...

My understanding is that you can't get sick from eating poultry infected with avian flu. The danger here is that birds pass it to each other, migrate, and then pass it to humans.

Mad cow disease is a somewhat different case, because you can get the disease by eating the meat. That did drastically cut beef consumption in Europe, but we haven't had enough cases for folks to worry about here.

Here's an interesting tidbit - they now think mad cow disease comes from humans. Humans get a disease like this called Creutzfelt-Jacob disease. They now suspect this was transmitted to cows when people fed them bone meal made from human bones (from India).