This paper describes an interdisciplinary research project carried out on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture. The project combines the knowledge of food experts with decision-orientated approaches from microeconomics and the social sciences. It examines what it is that makes food business operators (from the feed industry to the retail trade) break (or not break) rules. Through the analysis of both economic incentives and social context factors, the project aims at contributing to an adequate design of prevention measures. Four offence-prone regulations identified in the course of the ongoing project are exemplarily examined with regard to the present incentive situation.