Public and Private Encounters
Edited by Tetty Havinga, Frans van Waarden and Donal Casey
Chapter 11: Are we being served? The relationship between public and private food safety regulation
Foodborne illnesses sicken and kill hundreds of thousands of people every year. As many as 30 per cent of all infections in the last sixty years originated from pathogens transmitted through food (Jones, Patel et al. 2008). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that in the United States alone there are approximately 48 million cases of food-borne illnesses every year, 128 000 hospitalisations and 3000 deaths, resulting in significant costs for consumers, healthcare and the private sector. In Europe, 2009 data show about 325 000 cases of reported infections and 5550 foodborne outbreaks, mostly attributable to salmonella (EFSA and ECDC 2011). The true burden of foodborne illnesses is likely to be higher because causality is often difficult to establish, leaving myriads of cases unaccounted for. Ensuring the integrity of foods is a critical priority for governments, consumers and the private sector. This chapter analyses the industry’s role, specifically the contribution of private food safety standards (henceforth PFSS) in providing safe foods to consumers, and explores the relationship between public and private safety regulation.
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