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Cover of Addressing Foodborne Threats to Health

Addressing Foodborne Threats to Health

Policies, Practices, and Global Coordination

Workshop Summary


Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); .
ISBN-10: 0-309-10043-7 ISBN-13: 978-0-309-10043-4


The potential impact on human health of deliberate adulteration of food can be estimated by extrapolation from the many documented examples of unintentional outbreaks of foodborne disease, some of which have sickened hundreds of thousands of people and killed hundreds Given the wide variety of potential chemical and biological adulterants that can be introduced at many vulnerable points along the food supply continuum, contaminating food is perhaps one of the easiest means to intentionally distribute these agents. Although the many possibilities for foodborne bioterrorism cannot be specifically prevented, strategic preparations for surveillance, diagnosis, outbreak investigation, and medical response could mitigate foodborne threats of any origin.

To examine issues critical to the protection of the nation’s food supply, the Institute of Medicine’s Forum on Microbial Threats hosted a public workshop on October 25 and 26, 2005, in Washington, D.C. The presentations and discussions of the workshop were structured to explore the existing knowledge and unanswered questions indicated by (but not limited to) the following topics:

  • The globalization of the U.S. food supply
  • The spectrum of microbial threats to food
  • Case studies of food threats
  • The organization of food safety systems
  • Costs and benefits of reporting foodborne threats: the case of bovine spongiform encelphalopathy (BSE)
  • Surveillance for foodborne illness


This project was supported by the American Society for Microbiology; Burroughs Wellcome Fund; Defense Threat Reduction Agency; GlaxoSmithKline; Infectious Disease Society of America; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; Merck Company Foundation; Pfizer; Sanofi Pasteur; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Food and Drug Administration; U.S. Department of Defense’s Global Emerging Infections Surveillance and Response System and Walter Reed Army Institute of Research; U.S. Department of Homeland Security; U.S. Department of State; and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the organizations or agencies that provided support for this project.

NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine.

Copyright © 2006, National Academy of Sciences.
Bookshelf ID: NBK57091PMID: 21850788
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