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Managing Food Safety Practices from Farm to Table: Workshop Summary Overview U.S. policy makers are addressing the issue of food safety in a very serious way and unlike ever before in the history of this Nation. The science of food safety has advanced tremendously over these past 10-15 years. Several new coalitions have formed with the goal of educating Congress about food safety, and the 110th Congress is considering several food safety-related bills. As recent events attest, from melamine-tainted milk products from China to E. coli O157:H7-contaminated spinach from California, new and unforeseen food safety risks are continuing to emerge, impacting countries and consumers worldwide. Given recent recognition of the serious nature of the issue of food safety at the national level, not just in Congress but also in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), both federal agencies charged with ensuring the safety of the food supply, and elsewhere, stakeholders are asking: What can the U.S. government do to facilitate efforts to improve food safety, either through policy or perhaps even legal mandate? In response to concerns among food producers, regulators, consumers, and other stakeholders, the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM’s) Food Forum met in Washington, DC, on September 9, 2008, to address this question. Specifically, the meeting explored ways to manage food safety practices from the supply chain to the marketplace; including ways to develop systematic, risk-based strategies for prevention of microbial contamination in foods, particularly produce, thermally processed foods, and meats. The workshop also served as a forum for experts on various disciplines to discuss approaches, technologies, and institutional strategies to mange food safety risks in a global market. The impetus for this workshop developed from Food Forum discus-
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Managing Food Safety Practices from Farm to Table: Workshop Summary sions on recent trends in outbreaks and ways to predict their occurrence. Initially, Forum members anticipated an examination of systems and strategies that allow, or would allow, for making such predictions. The dialogue rapidly shifted, however, from questions about prediction to questions about prevention. Finally, Forum members conceived of a workshop where government, industry, consumer, and academic interests would meet to consider ways to develop systematic, risk-based strategies for prevention of microbial contamination in foods, particularly produce, thermally processed foods, and meats. Specifically, the workshop was designed to serve as a forum for discussion on approaches, technologies, and institutional strategies to manage food safety practices in a global marketplace. After a brief introduction by Food Forum Chair Michael Doyle and Food Forum member Ned Groth and keynote remarks from Michael Taylor, 11 experts from many fields gave formal presentations on lessons learned from recent outbreaks in various food products; strategic approaches to outbreak control; and future solutions to outbreaks in produce, thermally processed foods, and meats. A panel discussion and comments and questions from members of the audience broadened perspectives and added to the dialogue. This report is a summary of the workshop presentations and discussions. The meeting transcripts and presentations served as the basis for the summary. The agenda for the workshop appears in Appendix A; Appendix B lists the workshop participants; Appendix C contains the biographical sketches for the presenters, moderators, and panelists; and Appendix D lists acronyms and abbreviations used throughout the workshop. The reader should be aware that the material presented here expresses the views and opinions of individuals participating in the workshop either as presenters, panelists, or audience members, and not the deliberations or conclusions of a formally constituted IOM committee. The purpose of the workshop was not to come to consensus on any single issue. In fact, while some speakers and participants agreed on some issues, a notable feature of the day’s discussion was the wide divergence in opinion on many issues. Nor was the goal to comprehensively address all pertinent food safety issues. These proceedings summarize only the statements of workshop participants and are not intended to be an exhaustive exploration of the subject matter.