Course Program

Food safety: an international, comparative approach

Food is potentially a vector for biological pathogenic agents or harmful chemical contaminants. It is estimated that one in ten people around the globe are the victim of an illness directly linked to food every year. These illnesses are thought to be responsible for more than 400 000 deaths annually, a third of which are children under the age of 5.
The health (and economic) impact of food contamination varies depending on the country or region in the world and on factors such as climate, geographical location, types of crop grown and consumed, and the extent to which the economy is developed, etc. Nonetheless, the basic principles for preventing and fighting these illnesses are similar in all countries. There are three lines of defense. The first involves improving hygiene standards of raw foodstuffs at agricultural and aquacultural primary production level and reducing chemical input. Examples are the instigation of good farming practices for crops, and programmes for eliminating certain zoonoses for farmed animals. The second line of defense concerns food transformation and uses technologies which help to ensure that food does not pose a health risk, or reduce the use of additives. Pasteurisation, sterilisation, or even fermentation, are the most commonly used methods. The third involves educating those who handle and prepare food at the end of the chain: restaurant professionals and consumers preparing meals in their home. Training these individuals in hygiene can enable some major errors to be avoided.
Such measures are the responsibility of those in power who put regulations in place, ensure that the food chain is properly monitored, inform and train both those operating in the field and consumers. Key players in the agrifood sector also have a clear role to play and must put a number of measures in place to be fully in control of biological and chemical contaminants throughout the entire food chain. Finally, consumers are also involved as those at the end of the food chain but also as citizens who promote healthy eating.

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Institut des Hautes Etudes du Goût, de la Gastronomie et des des Arts de la Table

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