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Vulnerabilities, Threats and Gaps in Food Biosecurity

Fletcher, Jacqueline
Alpas, Hami
Henry, Christine M.
Haynes, Edward
Dehne, Heinz W.
Ma, Li Maria
Soyer, Yeşim
Yeni, Filiz
Colla, Paola
Robb, Paul
The food production system throughout the European Union, which includes farm production, harvesting, transport, processing, storage, marketing and consumption, is vast, complex and open. The high volume of trade in fresh vegetables and fruits contributes to the vulnerability to contamination, whether by accident or intent. Outbreak investigation is critical to understanding the sources of contamination and the steps required to minimize it. The fact that much of the trade in these commodities is international makes it critical that mediation efforts and cooperative research cross national barriers, just as the pathogens do. Enhancing the biosecurity of food production requires assessment of the following: how is the food production system currently organized, in what ways might it be vulnerable to contamination, either accidental or deliberate, what are the primary factors that would allow discrimination between deliberate vs. accidental outbreaks, how can the epidemiological and surveillance systems in Europe be strengthened to shorten outbreak response and mediation times, how can implicated fresh produce be traced to its source, and what forensically valid subtyping method(s) is/are available for detection and discrimination of associated foodborne pathogens.