In the pursuit of a healthier lifestyle, most people prioritize consuming food that is nutrient dense and free from ingredients which are likely to cause poor outcomes such as weight gain. However, few people understand the link between health and food safety. When unsafe food is consumed, nutritional deficiencies occur, causing disease and mental illness, and hampering growth and development. According to the World Health Organization, more than two hundred diseases are caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites, and chemicals found in contaminated foods, including cancers. Infants, Children, the elderly, and the infirm suffer the most adverse effects from foodborne contaminants.
Each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) promote food safety by observing World Food Safety Day. This year’s theme sheds light on the need for an overhaul of our food supply chain, creating sustainable systems for the “production and consumption of safe foods in order to improve health outcomes.” While legislation such as FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act) in the US and the General Food Law in the European Union have resulted in advancements in food safety, there are still gaps. Although FSMA is comprised of rules and guidance which provide direction to food producers and other industry stakeholders, there are several proposed rules, like the one for food traceability which expands recordkeeping for high-risk foods.
Building on the foundation laid by FSMA, the FDA developed the “New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint” to describe a novel approach to building a safer food system. It espouses enhanced utilization of technology to improve traceability and predictive analytics and reiterates the need for greater partnerships among all stakeholders. The blueprint outlines the FDA’s four-pronged approach for the next decade: 1) Tech-enabled Traceability; 2) Smarter Tools and Approaches for Prevention and Outbreak Response; 3) New Business Models and Retail Modernization; 4) Food Safety Culture.
Although we face one of the most uncertain times in history, it is reassuring to know that each of us has the power to positively impact health outcomes. Whether producer or consumer (or somewhere in the middle), we each have a degree of responsibility for food safety. Food producers are required to provide safe products for their customers. Consumers are tasked with safely storing and preparing food for themselves and their loved ones. The government is responsible for enacting regulations to protect consumer health. When we each take seriously our role in ensuring a safe food supply, we stack the odds in our collective favor.
- World Health Organization. (2022). A Guide to World Food Safety Day 2022.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2021, July 15). New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2022, May 5). New Era of Smarter Food Safety.
- World Health Organization. (2022, May 19). Food Safety.