Chapter 1 : Introduction to Preharvest Food Safety

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Food safety remains a global public health and agricultural priority. Since 1998, major funding programs and national initiatives have been developed and implemented within the United States and elsewhere. The emphasis of these programs has often been variable depending on the emerging new pathogen or outbreak, the changes in technology and method development, or funding mechanisms. Even terminology has been debated, i.e., farm-to-fork or plate-to-table, preharvest to postharvest. What remains constant is that accomplishments can be cited, yet the solutions for food safety issues remain elusive and changing. The reasons remain multifactorial, both from a scientific and from a strategic perspective. Scientifically, food safety is a complex issue that involves multiple and diverse food production practices, wide food distribution patterns, various and distinct consumers with assorted behaviors, and evolving foodborne pathogens and contaminants. Foodborne illnesses and outbreaks can be caused by not only microbial pathogens, but also by viruses, parasites, chemical agents, and toxins. Foodborne pathogens do not recognize specific barriers as humans, animals, and environments interact and as more food products are distributed globally. In addition to international travel, there has been an increase in world trade, and the United States continues to increase the importation of food products. In 2009, imports of various products such as grains and grain products, fruits and vegetables, nuts, and fish and shellfish were 17%, or 358 pounds, per capita (http://ers.usda.gov/topics/international-markets-trade/us-agricultural-trade/import-share-of-consumption.aspx). Importation can increase the access to new and familiar foods year-round but also can increase the possibility of introductions of additional food contaminants and pathogens.

Citation: Torrence M. 2018. Introduction to Preharvest Food Safety, p 3-17. In Thakur S, Kniel K (ed), Preharvest Food Safety. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.PFS-0009-2015
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