Food safety is both a solid issue and an enigmatic one. Ask anyone on the street for a definition, and they’ll probably answer that it means food that is safe to eat. But breaking this down into its components is a harder task. If one asks important questions such as what is safe food, how safe is safe, how many people get sick from unsafe food, what are the major causes of unsafe food, how can food be made safe, and who’s responsibility is food safety, the seemingly solid nature of the discipline dissolves.
While this book cannot pretend to answer questions that even experts in the field are grappling with, it does try to give the reader some possible answers, a broad overview of the subject, and the tools necessary to interpret the quality of the food they eat and the validity of the information to which they are exposed. The audience for the book includes those who eat food, whether they be parents, students, cooks, food industry workers, dietitians, health professionals, educators, or librarians.
The first part of the book offers an introduction and overview to the field of food safety. Chapter 1 begins with food hazards, exposing the reader to information about viruses, pathogenic bacteria, naturally occurring toxins, pesticides, and other dangers. Although humankind has been working to protect the food supply for millennia, pathogens and other forces have been similarly changing throughout the millennia to thwart attempts to make the food supply safe. These factors are examined, followed by a short history of discoveries that have contributed to the current state of scientific knowledge about food safety. Finally, readers are introduced to some of the techniques that have been developed to make food safer, the result of which can be seen in the aisles of grocery stores.
In Chapter 2 the reader is introduced to several hot topics and the issues on each side of the debate over food biotechnology, bovine somatotropin, food irradiation, pesticides, drinking water quality, and restaurant food safety. Chapter 3 provides a chronology of events covered under the umbrella of food safety—inventions, discoveries, foodborne illness outbreaks, legislation, and other events that have shaped our understanding of the safety of food. Chapter 4 traces the evolution of the laws