As the calendar turned from September to October, our annual observance of National Food Safety Education Month came to an end. Throughout the month, IFT and many other trusted organizations shared tips, resources, and pertinent information to remind people of the simple things they can do to prevent foodborne illness outbreaks. Now you may be thinking – since October is here, we can turn our focus away from food safety and move on to something else. If only it were that easy.
As food scientists, we know that a steadfast and diligent focus on food safety is required every month of the year. That’s why stakeholders throughout the value chain employ various controls to ensure food remains free of pathogens and other illness-causing agents. Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems provide the framework for monitoring the entire food system, enabling the identification and control of potential problems to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. In addition, regular risk assessments are conducted, allowing continuous process improvements and corrective measures to be made.
Still, while advances in regulations, food safety processes, and technology have played a significant role in helping to mitigate the impact of foodborne illnesses, outbreaks happen. In 2017, 841 foodborne disease outbreaks were reported in the U.S. alone, resulting in 14,481 illnesses, 827 hospitalizations, 20 deaths, and 14 food recalls.
To those who work tirelessly every day of every month to protect our global food supply, we thank you.
To those who make an effort to follow common food safety practices and encourage family and friends to do the same, we thank you.
To those who want to keep up with the latest food safety news, get involved in one of the interest-based divisions working in this space, or read more about my lifelong passion for food safety in the September issue of Food Technology magazine, IFT is the place to be.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Highlights from the 2017 Surveillance Report.” 11 September 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/fdoss/annual-reports/2017-report-highlights.html