Reports of foodborne illnesses continue to rise year-over-year. In addition to the recall and destruction of over 50 million pounds of food, there are an estimated 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths tied to foodborne illness annually.
In 2016, Fortune reported that food safety recalls and foodborne illness cost the food industry $55.5 billion annually.
As the population grows, so does the demand for food. Farmers, food scientists and production facilities find themselves under increasing pressure to find more efficient ways to put food on the table. But even the slightest lapse in protocol opens the door for bacteria, fungi and other pathogens to contaminate our food supply.
Food safety regulation and oversight
There are two primary government agencies responsible for regulation, oversight, and enforcement of food safety protocols, but understanding where one agency’s authority ends and another’s begins can be difficult to understand.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
According to the FDA website, the agency assumes broad regulatory authority across the food, drug, medical device, veterinary, cosmetics, and even electronics industries. FDA oversight related to the food industry includes dietary supplements, bottled water, food additives, and other food products. They also acknowledge that the U.S. Department of Agriculture takes the lead role in regulating aspects of some meat, poultry and egg products.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service is responsible for ensuring that meat, poultry and processed egg products are safe, wholesome and accurately labeled. They also ensure that all livestock are handled and slaughtered humanely, per the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act of 1958.
As you can see, foodborne illnesses are a serious concern for consumers, food manufacturers and regulatory bodies. But the risk can be significantly diminished with proper education and training, and by implementing safe food handling throughout the production and cooking process.
Test your food safety knowledge and learn how to prevent foodborne illnesses from impacting your customers and your company.
Additional resources to help prevent food exposure to bacterial pathogens