Improving Food Safety Through a One Health Approach

9/10/2012 12:00 AM

Globalization of the food supply has created conditions favorable for the emergence, reemergence, and spread of food-borne pathogens—compounding the challenge of anticipating, detecting, and effectively responding to food-borne threats to health. In the United States, food-borne agents affect 1 out of 6 individuals and cause approximately 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths each year. This figure likely represents just the tip of the iceberg, because it fails to account for the broad array of food-borne illnesses or for their wide-ranging repercussions for consumers, government, and the food industry—both domestically and internationally. A One Health approach to food safety may hold the promise of harnessing and integrating the expertise and resources from across the spectrum of multiple health domains including the human and veterinary medical and plant pathology communities with those of the wildlife and aquatic health and ecology communities.

The IOM’s Forum on Microbial Threats hosted a public workshop on December 13 and 14, 2011 that examined issues critical to the protection of the nation’s food supply. The workshop explored existing knowledge and unanswered questions on the nature and extent of food-borne threats to health. Participants discussed the globalization of the U.S. food supply and the burden of illness associated with foodborne threats to health; considered the spectrum of food-borne threats as well as illustrative case studies; reviewed existing research, policies, and practices to prevent and mitigate foodborne threats; and, identified opportunities to reduce future threats to the nation’s food supply through the use of a “One Health” approach to food safety. This document summarizes the workshop. Download here . . .