Producing compliant business behaviour: disclosure of food inspection results in Denmark and Germany



Public disclosure of food inspection results (“name-and-shame”) is increasingly used to promote compliance with food regulations. Name-and-shame measures tackle the problem of market failure by increasing transparency, strengthening the sovereignty of consumers and enabling them to make informed choices. Consumers prefer to buy from compliant food businesses. If information on compliance is successfully conveyed to consumers, non-compliant businesses will face a competitive disadvantage. They will be sanctioned not only by the state but also by a loss of market share. Additionally, social sanctioning from “relevant others”, such as friends and regular customers, may be linked with market sanctions. Both economic and social sanctions further the motivation to comply. Name-and-shame measures are thereby expected to effectively increase compliance with food regulations while keeping costs low for tax payers. Regulatory strategies which are both effective and cost-efficient are said to be “smart”. A prerequisite of smart regulatory approaches is that they are legally viable within a nation’s legal and constitutional environment. Against this background, and with a view to the current political discussions regarding the introduction of a public disclosure system in Germany, we carry out a comparative analysis of the well-established Danish smiley scheme and three pilot projects in Germany. Aiming at identifying the potential for improvement, we address the institutional design of these systems as well as their effectiveness and costs.


Consumer protection Compliance Food safety Name-and-shame Scores-on-doors Smart regulation Smiley scheme Transparency 


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Copyright information

© Bundesamt für Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit (BVL) 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Institut für Agrar- und Ernährungswissenschaften, Unternehmensführung im AgribusinessHalleGermany

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