What Are the Benefits of Food Safety?

The World Health Organization estimates foodborne and waterborne dysenteric diseases together kill about 2.2 million people each year 1. Foodborne diseases are a public health risk in the global South and in developed countries as well. According to the World Health Organization, food safety procedures and programs can improve food safety from production to consumption 12.

Reduce Food-Borne Illness

According to the "New York Times," 76 million cases of foodborne illness occur each year in the United States, leading to about 300,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths. These illnesses can be especially dangerous for those with weak immune systems, such as the very young and the very old. In addition, some illnesses can leave lasting health issues, such as kidney problems. Food safety programs should be implemented by individual companies; individuals, food preparation and service establishments should also know the specific food risks associated with the kind of food and preparation activity going on 2. Proper equipment maintenance is also important: for example, the "New York Times" stresses the importance of cutting board sanitation and using separate boards for meats and vegetables.

Protect Customers, Your Reputation

The United States Department of Agriculture, or USDA, reports that innovation in food-safety programs at meat and poultry plants studied in 2001 led to long-term production contracts, higher prices for output and longer shelf life for products 2. The USDA also notes that food-safety innovation reduces likelihood of a firm or plant suffering a damaged reputation for food safety, and points out that such tarnishing can lead to a company going out of business in an industry with high reliance on brands and reputation.

Enhance Consumer Confidence

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, or FAO, hosted a forum in 2002 on food safety regulation discussing the importance of consumer confidence for international trade in food 13. Meeting notes observed that food safety alerts have had serious global repercussions because of international press on food hazards such as Escherichia Coli, Salmonella and mad cow disease. The result, FAO noted, was a reduced public confidence in modern food farming systems and food processing, and a strong call for more responsibility for food safety and food quality.