Choosing certifiers: Evidence from the British Retail consortium food safety standard

Talia Bar, Yuqing Zheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Standards play a vital role in promoting food safety, and in many countries third-party certification bodies carry out audits to determine if food manufacturers comply with a particular standard. Using data from the British Retail Consortium global standards program, we study manufacturers' choices of certification bodies. We take a certification body's share of high audit grades in the months preceding an audit as a measure of perceived leniency, and find that manufacturers are more likely to choose certification bodies that they perceive to be more lenient. Manufactures are also more likely to choose geographically closer certification bodies, and to return to the same certifier that audited their site in the previous year.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-88
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Journal of Agricultural Economics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Talia Bar is an associate professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Connecticut, and Yuqing Zheng is an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Kentucky. The authors are grateful to Antony Harrison, Directory Services Manager at the BRC global standards, and Samuel Crome, Senior Directory Network Administrator, for providing data and for their insights about the program. Further, the authors are indebted to Haim Bar, Wuyang Hu, Harry Kaiser, Jennifer Murdock, and David Simon for their comments. The authors also thank Brendan Costello and Joe Roessler for outstanding research assistance. Roessler’s assistant was supported by the University of Connecticut’s SHARE award. The authors also thank the editor (Timothy Beatty) and two anonymous reviewers for insightful comments and suggestions. Correspondence may be sent to:

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association. All rights reserved.


  • Audit grade
  • British Retail Consortium
  • Food safety
  • Product quality
  • Standard
  • Third-party certification body

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics


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