Recalls of ground beef, peanut butter, and other foods have done more than raise public awareness and concern about food safety. They also are quietly fueling a boom in the market for food testing equipment and fostering new food safety regulations. That’s the topic of the two-part cover story in the current issue of Chemical & Engineering News, (C&EN) ACS’ weekly newsmagazine: “Making Food Safer.”
C&EN Associate Editor Jyllian Kemsley and Senior Correspondent Marc Reisch point out that food safety is a major public health issue, partly because the United States imports billions of dollars worth of food from sometimes exotic locations where food safety gets short shrift, the article notes. Other countries are also increasingly concerned about food safety. This includes China, where contaminated milk sickened hundreds of thousands of infants last year.
But help is on the way. Food scientists are developing faster, more sensitive methods for detecting food contaminants, an effort that has helped spur double-digit growth for instrument makers in the food safety market. A new bill working its way through the U.S. Congress would require food producers to strengthen food-handling, record-keeping, and safety procedures. These efforts should result in a safer food supply with “fewer hospitalizations and deaths, and fewer economically devastating recalls,” says U. S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, who is quoted in the article.