Saturday, April 27, 2019

Outbreak by Timothy Lytton

The new book Outbreak by legal scholar Timothy Lytton (University of Chicago Press; Amazon) is both well-written and insightful about how private markets and government institutions (including regulation and courts) jointly affect food safety successes and failures. It mixes lively narrative about particular outbreaks (including much detail that is new to me) with legal analysis about incentives and constraints for each stakeholder. I have added it to my syllabus.

Food Safety News writes:
Lytton discusses how inadequate budgets restrict the ability of government to develop and enforce meaningful regulations. Pressure from consumers to keep prices down constrains industry investments in safety. The limits of scientific knowledge leave experts unable to assess policies’ effectiveness and whether measures designed to reduce contamination have actually improved public health.

“Outbreak” offers practical reforms that will strengthen the food safety system’s capacity to learn from its mistakes and identify cost-effective food safety efforts capable of producing measurable public health benefits, according Lytton’s publisher.

The book has earned praise from big business officials, academic researchers, and lawyers who specialize in food safety cases.
Lytton is an associate dean and distinguished university professor at Georgia State University College of Law.