Global food safety issues

Mindy Brashears, Tyler Stephens

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), food-borne illness results in 1.5 billion cases of diarrhea in children each year and 3 million deaths. In the United States, each year there are an estimated 76 million cases of food-borne illness and 5000 deaths. In contrast, more than 1 million children under the age of 5 die annually from food-or water-borne diseases in Southeast Asia. The condition of the food supply, as well as public health efforts to protect the food supply, vary from country to country and have a direct impact on the number of food-borne illnesses and deaths that occur. In addition to loss of human life, the economic costs are tremendous. In the United States, it is estimated that the cost of food-borne illness is up to $6.9 billion, which is attributed to such things as medical expenses, litigation fees, and lost time from work. Economic data are less accurate for developing countries. Many challenges arise when addressing global food safety issues. In developing countries, much of the food is grown locally or may be traded in local “farmer’s markets.” The issues faced in developing countries include a lack of refrigeration or other means of preservation, food contaminated by sewage due to inadequate sewage treatment systems, and food contaminated by nonpotable water. In addition, food may be handled improperly by field workers because of inadequate hand washing or restroom facilities in the field. In the United States and other developed countries, there are different challenges. Food is typically processed in centralized facilities and shipped to supermarkets where it is purchased by the consumer. Food must be processed in sanitary facilities and maintained at proper temperatures during processing and distribution. Targeted interventions to improve food safety are generally implemented in these food systems as well as strict regulatory control of the safety of many of the products. This chapter discusses details of the challenges faced around the world as well as the varying health and economic statistics from country to country.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdequate Food for All
Subtitle of host publicationCulture, Science, and Technology of Food in the 21st Century
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781420077544
ISBN (Print)9781420077537
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009


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