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The problem with foodborne illness Chris Thomas Radiation & Residues Team Food Standards Agency Responsible Innovation & Food Irradiation 23 May 2013.

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Presentation on theme: "The problem with foodborne illness Chris Thomas Radiation & Residues Team Food Standards Agency Responsible Innovation & Food Irradiation 23 May 2013."— Presentation transcript:

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2 The problem with foodborne illness Chris Thomas Radiation & Residues Team Food Standards Agency Responsible Innovation & Food Irradiation 23 May 2013

3 Foodborne Disease Food safety is the FSA's top priority The reduction of foodborne disease is a key objective to ensuring food safety There has been a considerable reduction in foodborne disease However, the cost and burden remains unacceptably high The majority of foodborne illness is preventable and there is scope to reduce levels of disease

4 The FSAs Foodborne Disease Strategy to 2015 Aims to tackle foodborne disease by targeting the pathogens that have been identified as causing the greatest burden of disease: Campylobacter which causes most cases of food poisoning Listeria monocytogenes causes the most food poisoning deaths Viruses responsible for an increasing number of cases

5 The FSAs Foodborne Disease Strategy to 2015 The strategy is based on a farm-to-fork approach, with the aim of reducing contamination of foods during production and processing and of promoting good food hygiene practice in the kitchen, both commercially and in the home.

6 Campylobacter The most common cause of food poisoning in the UK. Found mainly in poultry but also in red meat, unpasteurised milk and untreated water. In 2009 (England & Wales) o > 371,000 estimated cases o > 17,500 hospitalisations o 88 deaths. Accounts for a third of the cost of the burden of foodborne illness in England and Wales, estimated at more than £583m in 2008.

7 Listeria Listeriosis is relatively rare but causes more deaths from food poisoning in the UK than other foodborne bugs Vulnerable groups are at increased risk Annual laboratory-confirmed cases (UK): o In 2000, 114 cases o In 2009, 234 cases o In 2010, 174 cases o Remains above levels observed in the 1990s. Most people infected are hospitalised and approximately a third die Costs £245 million a year to UK economy

8 EFSA Scientific Opinions (April 11) on Campylobacter in broiler meat production: o Clearly, irradiation is the most effective decontamination treatment, reducing the risk by virtually 100%... on the efficacy and microbiological safety of irradiation of food o No microbiological risks o Irradiation considered only one of several processes to reduce pathogens in food o Use as part of integrated food safety management including good agricultural, manufacturing and hygienic practices

9 Concerns over irradiation Consumer acceptance of using radiation o Irradiation is a physical process which leaves behind no residues Risk of lowering of hygiene standards pre-irradiation o Irradiation must not be used as a substitute for hygiene or good manufacturing practice (Directive 1999/2/EC) Risk of hygiene complacency by end consumers o Irradiation may assist in reducing foodborne disease but, as with any intervention, cannot be totally effective in isolation

10 Uses of irradiation Irradiation is already widely used for sterilisation and contamination control of: o Medical Devices o Pharmaceuticals o Cosmetics and Toiletries Food irradiation worldwide France / Belgium – Frog legs China – Continuing expansion – spices, fruits, shellfish USA – Dried spices, spinach, ground meat products, oysters – Tropical fruits for insect control (low dose) Australia – Tropical fruits for insect control (low dose)

11 Thank you for your attention Chris Thomas Radiation & Residues Team Food Standards Agency T: E:


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