In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Food Safety

  • Introduction
  • Introductory Works
  • Reference Works
  • Textbooks
  • Data Sources
  • Journals
  • Risks and Regulations Associated with Imported Foods
  • Risks Associated with Food Handling and Technology
  • Economic Considerations and Food Safety
  • Risks Associated with GMOs and Chemicals

Public Health Food Safety
Mark Robson
  • LAST REVIEWED: 13 December 2022
  • LAST MODIFIED: 22 April 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0099


Food safety is a broad term that is associated with how food is grown, harvested, stored, shipped, processed, and prepared. This includes commercial preparation for large-scale operations, as well as restaurants and school cafeterias, and preparing food in private homes. Food safety includes the prevention of microbial diseases as well as environmental contamination from pesticides on the farm and commercial or industrial chemicals and hazardous waste. Food safety laws are complicated in most developed countries; in the United States, for example, there are multiple agencies responsible for coordinating and enforcing the food safety laws, labels, and standards. Food safety is regulated at the federal level for issues such as food additives and pesticide residues, as well as at the community level through local health departments and health commissions, which are responsible for enforcing laws regarding the cleanliness of food preparation areas, expiration dates and storage of milk products and eggs, and many other standards. Food safety issues are important in developed and developing countries. Wholesome food is the right of every citizen in every society.

Introductory Works

The topic of food safety is general and wide-ranging. The introductory references listed here provide a comprehensive overview. Yiannas 2010 provides a field-to-fork overview of sanitation practices and behaviors needed to assure a safe food supply. Juneja and Sofos 2010 provides a good overview of the many pathogens and toxins that can affect food safety and discusses remedial efforts to avoid contamination. Doyle and Erickson 2008 provides a thorough look at food risks related to imported food. Nestle 2003 provides a broad look at the politics, the science, and the policy issues associated with food safety. Unnevehr and Hirschhorn 2000 is a World Bank briefing document that describes the investments made for food safety on a global scale.

  • Doyle, Michael P., and Marilyn C. Erickson, eds. 2008. Imported foods: Microbiological issues and challenges. Emerging Issues in Food Safety series. Washington, DC: ASM.

    Global perspectives on food safety regulations for imported foods, disease outbreaks, and sanitation and hygiene deficiencies as contributing factors in the contamination of imported foods. Discusses the role of programs to improve the microbiological safety of imported foods and the impact of imported foods on the US food supply.

  • Juneja, Vijay, and John Sofos, eds. 2010. Pathogens and toxins in foods: Challenges and interventions. Washington, DC: ASM.

    This text provides a wide range of topics with specific information on particular toxins and pathogens, the illnesses they cause, as well as the environmental and physical conditions that effect their growth. The text also provides information on detection, measurement, and control of food pathogens and guidelines for controlling them. Included are farm-to-table issues as well as information on global food safety.

  • Nestle, Marion. 2003. Safe food: Bacteria, biotechnology, and bioterrorism. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

    Provides the political perspective of food safety. Offers historical accounts, government oversight, consumer concern, and the future of food safety. Emphasizes how the food industry influences what people eat. Discusses issues of risk, benefit, and control as well as political questions on policy and controls of the food supply.

  • Unnevehr, Laurian, and Nancy Hirschhorn. 2000. Food safety issues in the developing world. Washington, DC: World Bank.

    DOI: 10.1596/0-8213-4770-5

    A document based on a World Bank project, this offers a brief overview of food safety as it relates to the developing world. Provides an introduction, then evaluates investments to improve food safety and concludes with lessons learned from the project experience and a list of organizations available.

  • Yiannas, Frank. 2010. Food safety culture: Creating a behavior-based food safety management system. New York: Springer.

    Provides a comprehensive discussion on food safety and sanitation practices beginning with the producer and through the supply, retail, and restaurant outlets. The book uses a systems approach and behavioral change approach in dealing with a variety of food safety issues.

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