After several food scandals in the past decades, regulatory regimes in food safety have been reformed on the level of the European Union and in most EU member states. In most countries, independent agencies have been created and mainly perform tasks in risk assessment. This report focuses on national institutional choices concerning these agencies in all 27 EU member states and asks whether or not these choices can be explained by path dependency or rather as a phenomenon of Europeanization at the national level.
In order to prevent food safety incidents from becoming a crisis, a good crisis management structure is essential. The aim of this study was to compare and evaluate the national food incident response plans of 2 neighboring EU Member States: Germany and the Netherlands. The structure of these plans is comparable, starting with initial alerting, assessment of the problem, upscaling, an execution phase and finally an evaluation of the crisis management. However, the German communication structure is more complex than the Dutch one and cross-border communication between both countries is currently limited. Mutual cooperation and communication can be improved through joint exercises or projects. This will help to streamline communication between consumers and trade partners. Such communication should be transparent relaying not only the facts but also the uncertainties in a crisis in order to gain consumer trust and safeguard international trade.
The food industry is becoming more customer-oriented and needs faster response times to deal with food scandals and incidents. Good traceability systems help to minimize the production and distribution of unsafe or poor quality products, thereby minimizing the potential for bad publicity, liability, and recalls. The current food labelling system cannot guarantee that the food is authentic, good quality and safe. Therefore, traceability is applied as a tool to assist in the assurance of food safety and quality as well as to achieve consumer confidence. This paper presents comprehensive information about traceability with regards to safety and quality in the food supply chain.
Each year foodborne diseases result in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths in the United States. Decreasing resources impact the ability of public health officials to identify, respond to, and control foodborne disease outbreaks. Geographically dispersed outbreaks necessitate multijurisdictional coordination across all levels of the public health system. This study reports on the use of targeted resources to improve the completeness and timeliness of laboratory, epidemiology, and environmental health activities for foodborne disease surveillance and response.
In the mid-1990s, several foodborne illness outbreaks associated with both domestic and imported fresh produce raised U.S. consumer awareness of food safety problems. Many people are concerned about the food safety of imports and want to know what is being done to resolve any problems. This report examines how U.S. and other nations responded to foodborne illness outbreaks traced to internationally-traded food.
Globally, foodborne illness affects an estimated 30% of individuals annually. Meals prepared outside of the home are a risk factor for acquiring foodborne illness and have been implicated in up to 70% of traced outbreaks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called on food safety communicators to design new methods and messages aimed at increasing food safety risk-reduction practices from farm to fork. Results reported here demonstrate that posting food safety infosheets is an effective intervention tool that positively influences the food safety behaviors of food handlers.
Controlling zoonotic agents in animal and poultry reservoirs has the effect of reducing the challenge to food safety management systems in processing and further along the food chain. Education of farmers and stockmen is crucial to successful on-farm control of zoonoses, as an understanding of why control measures are necessary, and how they can be applied, will improve compliance with protocols and procedures. This understanding is a first step towards the implementation of a longitudinal integrated food safety assurance approach to zoonosis control in the preharvest phase of the food chain.
Foodborne illnesses represent a substantial, yet largely preventable, health burden in the United States. In 10 U.S. geographic areas, the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) monitors the incidence of laboratory-confirmed infections caused by nine pathogens transmitted commonly through food. This report summarizes preliminary 2014 data and describes changes in incidence compared with 2006–2008 and 2011–2013. Despite ongoing food safety efforts, the incidence of many infections remains high, indicating that further prevention measures are needed to make food safer and achieve national health objectives.
Worldwide, the drinking-water sector is increasingly aware of the limitations of end-product testing for ensuring safety. One limitation is the steady increase in the number of potentially occurring pathogens and chemicals that need to be monitored. Another limitation is the delayed availability of results in relation to the timing of interventions needed to maintain the safety of a supply. Ensuring the safety of a supply requires monitoring not only of the finished drinking-water, but particularly of parameters which indicate whether the key control measures in a given process are functioning correctly.
Foodborne disease surveillance aims to reduce the burden of illness due to contaminated food. There are several different types of surveillance systems, including event-based surveillance, indicator-based surveillance, and integrated food chain surveillance. These approaches are not mutually exclusive, have overlapping data sources, require distinct capacities and resources, and can be considered a hierarchy, with each level being more complex and resulting in a greater ability to detect and control foodborne disease. This review explores the evidence on the principles, minimum capabilities, and minimum requirements for each type of surveillance and discusses examples from a range of countries.
Tension exists between the right of the public to be informed of the risk posed by a particular food product and the protection of the producer’s reputation. Moreover, the use of the Rapid Alert System (RASFF) can potentially have very serious consequences for affected companies and products, far beyond those posed by any legal sanction. This article intends to offer a practical view on the legal principles and regulations applicable to these situations, the conditions in which authorities can resort to the alert system and disclose information affecting products or companies, the procedure they should respect in adopting this decision, as well as the possible legal remedies to which affected companies can resort.
From 2008 to 2013, 215 outbreak alerts for food- and waterborne diseases were launched in Europe, the majority of them being related to salmonellosis. Vegetables were the most likely vehicle of infection. Several of the outbreaks reported had an international dimension, involving at least two countries, and on average four.
Despite significant efforts, there is still a considerable burden of foodborne illness, in which micro-organisms play a prominent role. Microbes can enter the food chain at different steps, are highly versatile and can adapt to the environment allowing survival, growth and production of toxic compounds. This sets them apart from chemical agents and thus their study from food toxicology. This report summarizes the discussions of a conference that sought to discuss new challenges to food safety that are caused by micro-organisms as well as strategies and methodologies to counter these.
Foodborne illness affects 1 in 4 Americans, annually. However, only a fraction of affected individuals seek medical attention. In this presentation, The authors discuss collaborations with local public health departments to develop a foodborne disease surveillance platform to supplement ongoing surveillance efforts using digital data from Twitter and Yelp.
The Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) provides a foundation for food safety policy and illness prevention in the United States. Through FoodNet, state and federal scientists collaborate to monitor trends in enteric illnesses, identify their sources, and implement special studies. FoodNet’s major contributions include establishment of reliable, active population-based surveillance of enteric diseases; development and implementation of epidemiologic studies to determine risk and protective factors for sporadic enteric infections; population and laboratory surveys that describe the features of gastrointestinal illnesses, medical care–seeking behavior, frequency of eating various foods, and laboratory practices; and development of a surveillance and research platform that can be adapted to address emerging issues.
The purpose of this study was to develop a standardized tool for the assessment of surveillance systems on zoonoses and animal diseases. The authors reviewed three existing methods and combined them to develop a semi-quantitative assessment tool associating their strengths and providing a standardized way to display multilevel results. They developed a set of 78 assessment criteria divided into ten sections, representing the functional parts of a surveillance system.
This paper compares the incentive structures for changes in food safety legislation and in private sector business strategies in the UK, Canada, and Australia. The experiences of these countries with respect to food safety scares is quite different, leading to different incentives for change and alternative legislative and private sector responses. The three-country comparison presented in this paper highlights the importance of incentives for change in determining the respective roles of public policy and private sector responses to food safety issues.
Progress to improve the safety of food in North American countries is hampered by common problems, yet differences exist. This article compares organizational elements and limitations influencing the effective operation of the food safety regulatory infrastructures in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
Food-safety regulatory agencies are often tasked with oversight of a broad range of food commodities. These agencies need to develop policies and allocate resources that consider the varying magnitudes of the risk of illness that each of the commodities poses to the broad population of consumers. Process modeling is often used in risk assessments but these are unique to each commodity and constructed using different models and data sources, which can produce estimates that are difficult to compare. This article presents an alternative approach that stems primarily from public health data – using simple methods to estimate various risk metrics simultaneously for multiple pathogens and commodities.
Food safety procedures are critical to reducing pathogen caused foodborne disease. However, there is no way to completely eliminate the risk of consuming contaminated products. When prevention efforts fail, rapid identification of the contaminated product is essential. This paper shows that before an outbreak occurs, analysis of food sales data, as a proactive intervention, can provide useful product intelligence that can be exploited during an outbreak investigation to accelerate the identification process.
In recent years, there have been increasing concerns over the safety of the Chinese food supply. Although many of these have only raised concern internally within China, several major food safety issues have had international repercussions. In response, China has implemented new food safety laws and management systems to improve its national food safety control system and reduce public and international concerns. This paper has describes and discusses the components of the Chinese system using the five key elements of a national food control system identified by the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization as essential for an effective system.
This paper explores processes of adaptation to food safety crises, and raises questions about what can be understood as success and failure in a crisis response. It presents the outcomes of a qualitative research study of Canada’s beleaguered beef industry and investigates institutional learning and adaptation following an outbreak of BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy). The paper concludes that in order to contend with recurrent crises in modern food-safety systems it is necessary to widen adaptive strategies and to scrutinize agricultural priorities and food policy as essential aspects of adaptation.
The Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) is a Food Safety Management System (FSMS) that is recognized as a worldwide guideline for controlling foodborne safety hazards. Nevertheless, the availability of a diagnostic instrument to assess the performance and effectiveness of the FSMS is rather restricted; therefore, the food sector needs an instrument to measure the effectiveness of FSMS. This study reveals a three-dimensional nature of the HACCP objectives (hazard identification, hazard assessment and hazard control). Further analysis of the data also reveals a valid latent factor reflecting the successful achievement of the HACCP objectives, namely HACCP effectiveness.
There is a widely felt need to develop methods for the early identification of emerging hazards to food safety with the aim of preventing these hazards from becoming real risks and causing incidents. This paper reviews various activities and previous reports that describe methods to select indicators that can be used for the purpose of early identification of hazards.
Antimicrobial resistance is a complex, multifaceted, urgent global health problem. There is increasing concern about the emergence of multidrug-resistant superbugs. These superbugs result in infections responsive to treatment with few if any currently available antimicrobial agents, reviving memories of the preantibiotic era and evoking concerns about a postantibiotic era. Addressing this urgent threat requires implementation of a multifaceted strategy that has been articulated in the past few years; implementation will require sustained political will, investment in systems and research, and a One Health approach involving improved communication, cooperation, and collaboration among the many professional disciplines and organizations with important roles to play at the intersection of human, animal, and environmental health.
During a foodborne crisis, risk assessors are often scrambling to assemble data needed to trace suspected foods along very complex supply chains. Although traceability systems ensure that stakeholders in the supply chain record lot-specific trace-back and trace-forward data, there are few databases available that describe in detail the flow of product in the complex web of supply chains. This paper presents the methodological approach used to design and assemble a relational database of nation-wide trade data for packaged ready-to-eat lettuce and leafy greens.
Salmonella has been recognized as a major and important foodborne pathogen for humans and animals over more than a century, causing human foodborne illness as well as high medical and economical cost. This paper reviews and describes the development and application of commercially available Salmonella detection methods. These are categorized into several groups based on the principle applied: conventional culture methods, immunology-based assays, nucleic acid-based assays, miniaturized biochemical assays, and biosensors.
Implementing the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) system in food manufacturing can effectively ensure food safety and quality, expand the market, and improve the manufacturers’ management level. This article discusses the application of the HACCP in a chocolate ice cream plant to guarantee the safety of chocolate ice cream production.
This paper aims to highlight how food contamination, whether accidental or deliberate, can have far‐reaching impact on individuals, organizations and the food supply chain. The research included a literature review and evaluation to determine the mechanisms currently in place to counter‐act bioterrorism in the food supply chain with particular emphasis on poultry.
Technology is now being developed that is able to handle vast amounts of structured and unstructured data from diverse sources and origins. These technologies are often referred to as big data, and open new areas of research and applications that will have an increasing impact in all sectors of our society. This paper assesses to what extent big data is being applied in the food safety domain and identified several promising trends.
Bacterial causes of foodborne disease such as Salmonella are widely recognized and monitored, while other important bacterial causes such as Clostridium perfringens, Bacillus cereus, and Staphylococcus aureus are less well known. Although the majority of cases of foodborne diseases are of unknown cause, bacteria and viruses are the most likely causative agents. To assess the disease burden in the United States, morbidity and mortality surveillance activities are done by several networks and systems with collaboration among federal agencies and health departments. Still, not all important causes are being equally monitored and critical behaviors by food processors, food retailers, foodservice personnel, and consumers can reduce the risk of foodborne illness episodes.
Effective food safety and food defense risk communication help to inform consumers without causing panic and alarm. The Risk Communication Team of the National Center for Food Protection and Defense has developed a list of 11 best practices recommended for effective risk communication. These practices, designed for a food defense crisis, are currently applied to food safety issues, since fortunately, a food defense crisis has yet to occur.
To better quantify the impact of foodborne diseases on health in the United States, these authors compiled and analyzed information from multiple surveillance systems and other sources. It was estimated that foodborne diseases cause approximately 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths in the United States each year. Overall, foodborne diseases appear to cause more illnesses but fewer deaths than previously estimated.
This paper reports the first stage of work being undertaken to understand the factors that have impacted on the current state of food safety in the UK food manufacturing sector. The paper first explores developments in international food safety regulation. Then, using a survey and case study methodology, the paper examines the response of food manufacturing enterprises to food safety regulation and uses statistical techniques to investigate the effects of enterprise size on the drivers for, benefits of, and challenges to compliance in the UK.
In recent years, thinking in disaster management and food safety governance has placed increased emphasis on deliberation and dialogue, denoting greater inclusiveness and influence of stakeholders in risk communication and government decision making. While disaster management and food safety governance bear important similarities, they are mostly viewed as stand-alone systems. This work presents an integrated conceptual framework that was developed through exploring the intersection between the essential components of the disaster management cycle with those of a leading food safety governance framework. The integrative framework acts to bridge the a between disaster management and food safety governance.
The application of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system is rapidly progressing, in particular in large and medium scale food industries. The term is becoming well known in food control and public health circles and is one which evokes food safety. However, concomitant with the headway of the HACCP system in food safety management, the incidence of foodborne diseases is increasing worldwide. This article delineates if these trends represent a paradox or a failure of the HACCP system.
The two most frequently reported zoonotic diseases in humans in the EU in 2005 were Campylobacter and Salmonella infections. Meat and meat products are important sources for these infections but knowledge on exactly how important they are compared with other types of food, drinking water and environmental exposure is quite limited. This article describes the importance of controlling zoonotic pathogens in meat through a complete, continuous farm-to-fork system.
Foodborne diseases are an important cause of human illness worldwide. Many efforts have been made in the last decades to prevent and control foodborne diseases, particularly foodborne zoonoses. However, information on the impact of these interventions is limited. To identify and prioritize successful food safety interventions, it is important to attribute the burden of human illness to the specific sources. Defining scientific concepts and harmonizing terminology for source attribution is essential for understanding and improving attribution methodologies and for sharing knowledge within the scientific community. These authors propose a harmonized nomenclature and describe the various approaches for human illness source attribution and their usefulness to address specific public health questions.
Social media is a particular communication platform which has witnessed an exponential growth in use and influence in recent years, democratizing the communication process, and offering risk communicators a way of putting into practice those principles which are advocated to be at the core of risk management and communication. However, little is known about stakeholders’ willingness to embrace this new form of communication in a food crisis. This study presents an exploratory investigation of the opinions of Irish stakeholders on the position of risk communication in a crisis, with a particular focus on understanding what application social media may have. The findings indicate that those interviewed were appreciative of the need to engage with social media in times of a food safety crisis. However, most valued social media as a one-way channel to help spread a message and there was little reference to the interactive nature of this medium. Implications for integrating social media into crisis risk communication strategies are also discussed.
Regardless of where they get their information from, Americans are very likely to learn almost instantly whenever there is an outbreak of bacterial pathogens—Salmonella, Listeria, or the bad Escherichia coli—from contaminated food products. This is a huge achievement and a great benefit for public health: The earlier this information reaches consumers, the less people will be affected and public health and other authorities have more time to identify and contain the source of the outbreak. However, despite its contribution to public health, most Americans are not aware that a little‐known government program called PulseNet USA detects nearly all foodborne outbreaks of pathogenic bacteria. This is a bit odd because PulseNet has not only been very efficient in detecting foodborne disease but has thereby positively impacted public health and saved millions of dollars since it was founded 20 years ago. PulseNet is now undergoing profound changes as it both expands internationally to protect consumers in other countries and invests heavily—financially and scientifically—in new technologies such as next‐generation sequencing (NGS) to further improve its capacity to detect food contaminations.
Planning for rapid response to outbreaks of foodborne zoonoses requires coordination and intersectoral collaboration, making the process inherently complex. Guidance documents have been published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) on the topics of foodborne outbreak investigation, establishing food safety emergency response plans, applying risk analysis principles during food safety emergencies, and developing national food recall systems. These guides should be used as resources by national authorities to develop national plans which should each reference the other in order to maintain consistency at the country level. FAO and WHO, together with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), are the international organizations responsible at the global level for the health of people and animals and for food safety and security. As such, these organizations need to continue to work together to develop an intersectoral mechanism to conduct robust and timely joint risk assessments in the face of foodborne outbreaks and other food safety emergencies.
Food safety is a recurring technical and management challenge, which is further complicated by constantly evolving public perceptions. Currently, the food supply in the United States remains one of the safest in the world. However, as our food systems become centralized, increasingly complex and tightly coupled, the probability of unforeseen interactions increases. These interactions carry the potential to create a crisis, or what system theorists call bifurcation. In bifurcation, a system is fundamentally altered in some dramatic way. Thus, a system designed to distribute safe food may function to spread contamination. This article elucidates these concepts.
The US food supply is increasingly characterized by centralized production and wide distribution of products. Deliberate contamination of a commercial food product could cause an outbreak of disease, with many illnesses dispersed over wide geographical areas. Dependent on the biological agent and contaminated food, such an outbreak could either present as a slow, diffuse, and initially unremarkable increase in sporadic cases, or as an explosive epidemic suddenly producing many illnesses. Preparedness for a bioterrorist event affecting the food supply, therefore, entails augmentation of the traditional public-health infrastructure to enhance disease surveillance, accelerate capacity of laboratory detection, rapidly investigate and control outbreaks, and develop capacity for response to mass-casualty disasters.
The reported food-related illness in the US and UK indicate that there are still needs for improvement in the food production chain. The food service area is one of the last hurdles for food items in the food chain and, millions of people eat out or utilize catering services each year which stresses the need for an improved system of food safety in food service. Also, in the food service area, especially in small or medium size food business there visually appears to be a tremendous need for a better system than is currently in place. This paper discusses the needs, current applications, and the prospects of hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) in food service areas.
This article provides a review of the surveillance for Salmonella infections in the United States. Surveillance systems include the National Salmonella Surveillance System, the Foodborne Disease Outbreak Reporting System, PulseNet, the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System for Enteric Bacteria (NARMS), and FootNet. Efforts are underway to electronically link all of the Salmonella surveillance systems at CDC to facilitate optimum use of available data and minimize duplication.
PulseNet, the national molecular subtyping network for foodborne disease surveillance, was established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and several state health department laboratories to facilitate subtyping bacterial foodborne pathogens for epidemiologic purposes. PulseNet, began in 1996 with 10 laboratories typing a single pathogen but now includes 46 state, 2 local public health laboratories, and the food safety laboratories of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Four foodborne pathogens (E. coli O157:H7; nontyphoidal Salmonella serotypes, Listeria monocytogenes and Shigella) are being subtyped, and other bacterial, viral, and parasitic organisms will be added soon.
The Middle East has several traditional food safety practices issues. Serious foodborne outbreaks reported in recent years caused by foods are emerging health threats. The focus of this article is to review some of the major challenges for controlling foodborne outbreaks, traditional food products and food safety practices in the region. Challenges and issues about homemade, restaurant and street food, public health infrastructures and new technologies and rules have also been discussed. Recommendations for appropriate food safety practices such as the application of new techniques and management systems to improve traditional food safety are presented.
Preventing foodborne infections requires sustained efforts along the entire chain of production. Public health surveillance drives a number of disease prevention programs, including tuberculosis control, polio eradication, and foodborne disease prevention. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has launched several new approaches to foodborne disease surveillance, including FoodNet, PulseNet, and the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System for Enteric Bacteria (NARMS). Investigation of these outbreaks of foodborne disease can yield important insights in how to improve prevention strategies.
The epidemiology of foodborne disease is changing. In the past, the central challenge of foodborne disease lay in preventing the contamination of human food with sewage or animal manure. In the future, prevention of foodborne disease will increasingly depend on controlling contamination of feed and water consumed by the animals themselves. Improved surveillance and outbreak investigations and case-control studies of sporadic cases can identify sources of infection and guide the development of specific prevention strategies. Better understanding of how pathogens persist in animal reservoirs is also critical to successful long-term prevention.
The question of how to aggregate animal health information derived from multiple data streams that vary in their specificity, scale, and behavior is not trivial. The authors of this article propose that outbreak detection in a multivariate context should be viewed as a probabilistic prediction problem.
Assessment of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems is a key element in assuring the effective management of food safety. However, there is no accepted approach or common methodology available to HACCP practitioners, auditors or regulatory bodies. This paper seeks to examine this situation.
Food safety is a priority for all stakeholders associated with the food supply and consumption. Outbreaks and recalls caused by microbial pathogens are widely attributed to contaminated foods, and lead to considerable public health and economic burdens.
Foodborne diseases remain a major threat to global public health. Problems in detecting the threats at early stages in the supply chain due to defects in surveillance systems cannot be ignored. The primary goal of this article is to evaluate the capabilities of foodborne disease surveillance systems known for their effectiveness and functionality in order to highlight solutions for preventing and managing the outbreaks more effectively.