Foodborne illness - An age old problem requiring contemporary solutions

Thomas J Sidwa, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Foodborne illness has always been with us, and food safety is an increasingly important public health issue affecting populations worldwide. In the United States of America, foodborne illness strikes millions of people and kills thousands annually, costing our economy billions of dollars in medical care expense and lost productivity. The nature of food and foodborne illness has changed dramatically in the last century. The regulatory systems have evolved to better assure a safe food supply. The food production industry has invested heavily to meet regulatory requirement and to improve the safety of their products. Educational efforts have increased public awareness of safe food handling practices, empowering consumers to fulfill their food safety role. Despite the advances made, none of the Healthy People 2010 targets for reduction of foodborne pathogens has been reached. There is no single solution to eliminating pathogen contamination from all classes of food products. However, irradiation seems especially suited for certain higher-risk foods such as meat and poultry and its use should advance the goal of reducing foodborne illness by minimizing the presence of pathogenic organisms in the food supply. This technology has been studied extensively for over 50 years. The Food and Drug Administration has determined that food irradiation is safe for use as approved by the Agency. It is time to take action to educate consumers about the benefits of food irradiation. Consumer demand will compel industry to meet demand by investing in facilities and processes to assure a consistent supply of irradiated food products.

Subject Area

Public health

Recommended Citation

Sidwa, Thomas J, "Foodborne illness - An age old problem requiring contemporary solutions" (2009). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1470525.