Safeguarding Consumers through Mimimum Quality Standards

Research Seminars

Milk Inspections and Urban Mortality, 1880 – 1910

The paper presented in this research seminar examines the effect of enforcing minimum quality standards (MQSs) on consumer health. In the late 1800s, the urban milk supply was regularly skimmed and diluted with water, but consumers could not easily determine its quality because dyes, caramel, and salt were added. To protect consumers, milk inspectors were tasked with enforcing a well-defined MQS. Using city-level data for the period 1880-1910, tha authors find that milk inspections reduced mortality from waterborne and foodborne diseases by 12-19 percent. Theirs is the first study to provide evidence that MQSs can improve consumer health when directly applied to an experience or credence good.


ZEW Mannheim and Online



Institute address

ZEW Mannheim and Online


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L7, 1, 68161 Mannheim
  • Room Brüssel