Monday, August 20, 2012

Food Supply Chain Networks and Food Safety -- When Research Captures the Real-World

I tell my students to read not only books but also such publications as The New York Times and The Economist.

I believe that the real world can and should inspire research and those who are curious and care about solving problems can find many challenging problems out there.

One of our most recent papers was of modeling competitive food supply chains with a focus on product perishability through the use of arc multipliers and generalized networks.

The paper,  Competitive Food Supply Chain Networks with Application to Fresh Produce,  Min Yu and Anna Nagurney, is now in press in the European Journal of Operational Research.

In the paper, which utilizes game theory and variational inequality theory for formulation, analysis, and computations, we also presented a case study, focused on the cantaloupe market, in the scenario of a foodborne illness, that was inspired by an actual outbreak that occurred a while back.

 Now USA Today is reporting,  that the Latest deadly salmonella outbreak angers food-safety experts.

According to the article:

Agricultural experts say the frequent problems with cantaloupes come from the nature of the melons and sloppy agricultural practices.

In the latest outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said, two people have died and 141 have fallen ill in 20 states in a salmonella outbreak linked to contaminated cantaloupe grown in southwestern Indiana. Thirty-one victims have been hospitalized. Both deaths were in Kentucky.

Last year's epidemic was caused by cantaloupes contaminated with listeria, from Colorado's Jensen Farms, according to the CDC.

We all know the importance of consuming fresh produce and how delicious ripe fresh fruit is -- at least we should be confident and secure that it will support health and not cause illnesses and death because of inappropriate handling and processing. 

In our paper, we show the economic impact of such a foodborne outbreak of the involved firms.