Chapter 5 : Microbial Forensics in Food Safety

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Food production practice has changed substantially in the last few decades in the United States. The number of small farms has decreased, giving way to larger operations. For example, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data, the number of dairy farms with dairy cows fell from 648,000 operations in 1970 to 75,000 in 2006 ( ). While the numbers of farms decreased, the size grew, with herd size rising from 19 to 120 cows per farm in those years. Centralization of food production is becoming a common practice in the United States for many food commodities. In addition, global food trade is also changing the landscape of food production and distribution patterns. With global income level on the rise, there is a growing consumer demand for a variety of food. Facilitated by improved transportation networks, global food trade is expected to increase. Demand for minimally processed food has also been trending up. Minimally processed food is often characterized by high water activity and mild acidic to neutral pH and is not subjected to high-heat treatment. This includes ready-to-eat food, fruits, and vegetables. As a result, a different set of food safety issues emerges: for example, tracking implicated food ingredients in a widely distributed network is increasingly difficult, new foodborne pathogens are discovered from imported food, and common foodborne pathogens are associated with new niches of food products. With new issues and challenges, the regulatory agencies responsible for protecting our food supply have been working hard to ensure public health.

Citation: Yeung M. 2018. Microbial Forensics in Food Safety, p 93-113. In Cano R, Toranzos G (ed), Environmental Microbial Forensics. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.EMF-0002-2013
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