Food Protection Trends - June 2012 - (Page 292)

“FOOD FOR THOuGHT” from YOuR PrESIDENT I n April I attended a Food Safety Forum in Beijing,China, sponsored by the International Union of Food Science and Technology, the China Association for Science and Technology, and a number of other organizations, including various government Ministries of the People’s Republic of China. The Forum brought together scientists from China, Canada, Australia, the UK, the USA and the World Health Organization to share information on food safety issues. In their opening remarks, representatives from the Chinese government committed China to using a risk-based approach to ensuring food safety. Dr. Chen Junshi is one of the leaders in this effort. He is an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and a professor at the China National Center for Food Risk Assessment, whom I met many years ago when I worked for the International Life Sciences Institute. Professor Junshi’s talk was on risk communication. He noted that a new food safety law was introduced in China in 2009 which has greatly improved food safety management strategies in China. This law has resulted in the establishment of a national food safety surveillance program, strengthened inspection systems, and the new National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment. However, consumers in China perceive the food safety situation to be getting worse, in part because food safety issues are frequently reported in the media. Better inspection has led to more frequent findings of food safety concerns, which can then be controlled. However, media reports of these findings can make it seem that consumers are at greater risk By ISABEL WALLS PRESIDENT “We have seen a considerable increase in the reporting of multistate outbreaks due to better technology.” of illness. Risk communication is very important in these situations, otherwise misleading information is communicated to consumers. In the U.S. we have similar concerns. A number of presentations from U.S. speakers focused on PulseNet. PulseNet makes it possible to identify multistate outbreaks that would never have been recognized without it. Many of us are highly impressed at its capabilities and China is planning on adopting it also. We have seen a considerable increase in the reporting of multistate outbreaks due to better technology. The implicated foods can then be recalled and the outbreak controlled. However, there could easily be a perception that there is more illness rather than just better identification techniques. Appropriate risk communication messages are required to provide the correct information to consumers in this situation. Risk perception can result in huge economic losses even when there is no public health risk. I noted in my talk that in 2009, during the pandemic outbreak of H1N1 influenza, more than 30 countries banned U.S. exports of pork and live swine because the illness was known as “swine flu.” H1N1 influenza is spread from person to person, not through food, yet due to the perception that pork or live swine might cause illness, pork producers in the U.S. lost millions of dollars over a four-month period. A key priority was to try to stop the media from calling the illness “swine flu.” Clear messages were sent from trusted sources that H1N1 was not transmitted through food that proved helpful in convincing countries to lift their export bans. The lesson learned is that even a perceived food safety concern can result in a huge economic issue, and that therefore, good risk communication is essential. Another interesting presentation was on the importance of hygienic design of food processing equipment to food safety. Dr. Binghuei Barry Yang, Director, Southern Taiwan Service Center, Food Industry 292 FOOD PROTECTION TRENDS | JUNE 2012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Food Protection Trends - June 2012

Food Protection Trends - June 2012
Sustaining Members
Food for Thought from Your President
Commentary from the Executive Director
Assessment of Food Safety Knowledge and Attitudes of Managers of Residential Childcare Institutions (RCCI) in the Northeast
International Food Information Council Foundation Food and Health Survey, 2006–2010, Food Safety: A Web-enabled Survey
New Members
What’s Happening in Food Safety
Industry Products
Award Recipients
Ivan Parkin Lecture
John H. Silliker Lecture
Committee Meetings Schedule
General Information
Registration Information
Special Contributors and Sponsors
Preliminary Program
Coming Events
Advertising Index
Journal of Food Protection Table of Contents
Membership Application

Food Protection Trends - June 2012