Emerging Microbiological Food Safety Issues

February 20, 2002

Recognizing that food safety is a fundamental and continuing issue, the Institute of Food Technologists commissioned an expert panel to review the available scientific literature related to emerging microbiological food safety issues and implications for their control.

The continued occurrence of foodborne illness is not evidence of thefailure of our food safety system. Infact, many of our prevention andcontrol efforts have been—and continue to be—highly effective. The U.S. food supply is arguably among the safest in the world, but significant foodborne illness continues to occur. Despite great strides in the area of microbiological food safety, much remains to be done.

This report was officially released in its entirety on Feb. 20, 2002, at the IFT International Food Safety and Quality Conference and Expo in Atlanta, Ga.

From IFT Press Release:

Despite significant success at improving the safety of the nation’s food supply, current science on which safety is based does not sufficiently protect us from emerging issues inherent to a complex food supply. The evolving characteristics of food, technology, pathogens and consumers make it unlikely the marketplace will be entirely free of dangerous organisms at all times for all consumers. This is among the conclusions presented in the new expert report published by the not-for-profit scientific society Institute of Food Technologists. The report, Emerging Microbiological Food Safety Issues: Implications for Control in the 21st Century was released today at IFT’s International Food Safety and Quality Conference and Expo in Atlanta.

The report, which draws upon experts specializing in foodborne pathogens and microbial evolution, foodborne illness, food production and processing, testing methods and regulatory measures, reveals that diligent adherence to current methods that create and monitor the food supply cannot eliminate the risk of foodborne illness. It also offers recommendations for providing the greatest possible reduction in food safety risks.

Among its seven sections, the report addresses: procedures from farm to table to significantly reduce illness due to mishandling, processes to recognize and respond to outbreaks and to reduce their scope, poor habits that make consumers more susceptible to foodborne illness, education and training recommendations necessary for reducing pathogenic influence at every step–from production to consumption–and recommendations to enhance monitoring, data generation, and risk assessment. The report also specifies the current state and future potential of rapidly evolving illness-causing pathogens and other key issues.

To gain the greatest measure of food safety, the report stresses the necessity of implementing flexible food safety measures in order to utilize as quickly as possible the latest scientific information as it evolves. It further urges manufacturers, regulatory and public health agencies and allied organizations to develop partnerships to improve risk assessment and food safety management.