In the wake of recent food-borne salmonella outbreaks, Justina Wang of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle found that a combination of a complex supply chain and lax federal oversight has allowed a steady stream of dangerous pathogens to slip into the food supply.
Given the complexity of today’s food processing and distribution networks, Wang found that many health experts don’t see an end to the outbreaks.
“Absolutely it will continue to happen until big changes are made,” said Sanford Miller, former director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition and a senior fellow at the University of Maryland. “The food industry has just exploded over the last several decades, and unfortunately, the FDA has not been able to keep up with this.”
Pathogens can lurk in food for months and by the time someone becomes ill and is tested and diagnosed with a potentially dangerous food-borne illness, officials said, the outbreak may already be in full swing. Once the outbreak is detected, even more time passes as product recalls are put into place.
- Fatal Food: A study of illness outbreaks: Thomas Hargrove of Scripps Howard News Service wrote about food-borne illness outbreaks in a 2007 article for AHCJ. He found that some states did a good job of diagnosing and tracking down the causes of outbreaks, while other states “are virtually blind in detecting outbreaks of food illness.”
- HHS’s new social media team focuses on outbreak