Challenges in Food Safety

Sometimes the foods we love and count on for good health are contaminated with germs that cause sickness and can even be deadly. More progress is needed to protect people and reduce foodborne illness in America.

New challenges to food safety will continue to emerge, largely because of:

  • Changes in our food production and supply, including more imported foods.
  • Changes in the environment leading to food contamination.
  • Better detection of multistate outbreaks.
  • New and emerging bacteria, toxins, and antibiotic resistance.
  • Changes in consumer preferences and habits.
  • Changes in the tests that diagnose foodborne illness.

Shopping basket

Antibiotic resistance in foodborne germs is a growing challenge that is made worse by overuse of antibiotics in humans and food animals. Every year, over 400,000 people in the United States get sick from resistant Salmonella or Campylobacter.

Culture-independent diagnostic tests (CIDTs) are changing the way that clinical laboratories diagnose patients with foodborne illness. These tests can identify the general type of bacteria causing illness within hours, without having to culture, or grow the bacteria in a laboratory.

These tests allow doctors to rapidly determine the cause of a patient’s illness. However, these tests do not provide the information needed to find and prevent foodborne illness outbreaks and monitor disease trends. 

Glass of milk

Raw milk and products made from it can pose severe health risks, including death.

Small version of The Food Production Chain infographic

Food contamination can occur at any point—during production, processing, distribution, or preparation.