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FOOD SAFETY


Americans get food illnesses each year...


1/6 Technology


The same technology used for the mapping of genes to diagnose rare diseases is being used to uncover the sources of food poisonings. According to the Associated Press, health professionals have launched a programme to try to outsmart outbreaks by routinely decoding the DNA of potentially deadly bacteria and viruses. The initial target is listeria, the third-leading cause of death from food poisoning and especially dangerous to pregnant women. Another technological breakthrough is electrolysed water, which combines low levels of electricity, common salt and ordinary tap water to produce a safe, proven and effective alternative to chemical cleansers, sanitisers and disinfectants.


Companies such as eWater Advantage are helping improve safety in a variety of ways. “Electrolysed water is the future of food safety,” says Joe Farrell, president and CEO of eWater Advantage. Jim McGovern, general manager of the Angus Barn Restaurant in Raleigh, North Carolina, says he uses electrolysed water because of its effi ciancy as a sanitiser. “We know, based on the science behind it, that it will quickly and effectively kill any pathogens on foods or surfaces without the use of chemicals. It gives our staff and customers peace of mind that we are using a natural, chemical-free way to protect their health and safety when they are preparing, serving or consuming our food.”


Advances in


globalisation of the food supply network have outstripped regional safety processes and procedures. New methods are being developed


Global reach According to Food Safety magazine, advances in globalisation of the food supply network have outstripped regional safety processes and procedures, “as exemplifi ed by the absence of a global food safety authority. Many recent events in food safety have demonstrated the need to remain vigilant and maintain appropriate state-of-the-art testing facilities.” New methods are being developed to provide timely notifi cation based on a wide range of methods, the editors note, such as early-warning systems, prediction and forecasting methods and psychological investigations to combat fraudulent practices.


Eliminating vermin


“Pest control is just one aspect of the food industry,” points out Alice Sinia, PhD, entomologist for pest control fi rm Orkin Canada. “Others include bioterrorism, biotechnology, traceability, nutrition, environmental protection, animal welfare and phytosanitation. Each aspect is regulated by specifi c legislation and initiatives.” Global food standards, Sinia notes, are based on non-government organisation bodies such as International Organization for Standardization (ISO), British Retail Consortium (BRC), Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), or local/regional bodies such as AIB and SQF. “The standards are developed in collaboration with other nations.”


For more go to foodserviceconsultant.org


Absorbing costs A major challenge comes from ongoing global economic stresses. Alexandra Veiga, PhD, science manager at ITQB-UNL, a life sciences research institute near Lisbon, Portugal, noted in a recent op-ed, since the onset of the present international economic crisis: “I have been wondering how it will aff ect the eff orts over the last couple of decades to assure food safety and promote consumption of healthy food, particularly in some European countries.” Veiga sees it as very important that even though the present downturn “makes it tempting to save money in family food baskets or in food safety systems, attention is given by all involved in the food chain – from producers to regulators to consumers – to the real cost of these savings.” The public good in the form of food protection must trump the desire to cut costs if the coalescing global networks designed to safeguard health and safety are to continue to expand and develop.


MILLION ...that's


48


128,000 3,000 ...of which are hospitalised... ...and cases end fatally


57


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