“You are what you eat,” the old saying goes, and it’s all the more true with today’s globe-spanning food production system. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that, on average, 48 million people in the United States suffer from food-related illnesses every year, the equivalent of one in six Americans. Many cases stem from failing to follow basic safety procedures at home, but the very nature of industrial production processes can result in significant outbreaks of diseases caused by seemingly innocuous foods — lettuce, eggs, cheese, sprouts and spices, to name just a few.
Below are a series of videos by researchers working in the field of food safety. Topics discussed include risk assessment, supply chains and contamination sources, as well as genetically modified foods and the importance of meaningful and accurate food labeling.
“Foodborne disease: Hazards, risks and values,” Michigan State University. Felicia Wu talks about risk assessment of chemicals in food and beverages, followed by John Spink discussing risk management and food recalls. In 2011, Spink co-authored a paper, “Defining the Public Health Threat of Food Fraud,” that looks at issues of economically motivated adulteration or mislabeling.
“Food safety risk communication,”Maria Lapinski, Associate Dean for Research, College of Communication Arts and Sciences and Associate Professor, Department of Communication, Michigan State University. Lapinski discusses the basic principles of food safety risk communication and also how the new media environment has changed the sharing of information. She is the author, among other papers, of “Segmentation of U.S. Consumers Based on Food Safety Attitudes.”
“Harvard Food Law Society Forum on Food Labeling,”Urvashi Rangan, director of consumer safety and sustainability for Consumers Union. She received her Ph.D. in environmental health sciences from Johns Hopkins University and was a fellow at the National Institutes of Health fellow from 1990 to 1997. An article covering some of her research, “Challenges in Setting Credible Standards for Food Labeling and Safety,” was published in the Vermont Law Review in 2013.
“E. coli 0157 and lettuce contamination,”Elliot Ryser, Michigan State University. Ryser and his students conduct an experiment on the potential for contamination of lettuce with E. coli during processing.
“E. coli 0157 and cattle diet,”Tim McAllister, University of Alberta, about the influence of cattle diet on E. coli outbreaks. Of particular interest is the use of distillers grains, a byproduct of ethanol production, as cattle feed, and its effects on livestock health.
“Controlling livestock cross-contamination,” Jean-Paul Laforest, Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences, Université Laval. Topics discussed include food handling, the potential for microbial infection, the use of antibiotics in animal feed and the potential for increasing antibiotic resistance. His research has included investigations on the use of hormones in milk products.
“Biosafety of genetically modified crops,” Martina Newell McGloughlin, University of California, Davis. Her 2014 paper, “Health Impacts,” discusses crops that have been genetically modified with traits that may provide nutritional benefits to humans and animals.