Keeping food supplies safe is an ongoing challenge, but fortunately professionals working in the field have made plenty of headway over the years. According to FoodNet data, from 1996 to 2010, infections caused by Campylobacter decreased by 27 per cent, infections caused by Listeria decreased by 38 per cent, and that E. coli O157 infections had been reduced by an impressive 44 per cent.
Changes in processing, plant sanitation, and other food safety practices lead to these important improvements. However, changes both in food production and in the pathogens themselves are creating new challenges for the next generation of food safety professionals.
What are some of these emerging pathogens and how can future food safety professionals keep them out of food supplies? Read on to find out!
Hepatitis E: An Emerging Problem Professionals With a Food Technology Diploma Watch Out For
Emerging pathogens can come from a number of different sources. Some might be the result of new mutations and others might simply be a known pathogen appearing in previously unaffected food sources. Sometimes, a pathogen affecting one region of the globe might make its way to new areas.
Hepatitis E, for example, has long been a problem—affecting an estimated 20 million people around the world every year. People with Hepatitis E are usually asymptomatic. However, in some cases this infection can lead to serious illness and even liver failure. Hepatitis E outbreaks had previously affected developing countries, but now some experts worry that this infection is spreading to developed countries as well.
Recent studies have been investigating this emerging problem, with some experts speculating that infected pork products might be behind the appearance of Hepatitis E in Europe. For this reason, professionals with a food technology diploma are stressing the importance of making sure that pork be thoroughly cooked to reduce the spread of Hepatitis E.
Salmonella: A Known Pathogen Creating New Challenges for Pros Working in Food Safety
Part of the challenge that comes with keeping foods pathogen-free is that sometimes infected animals or items may appear healthy and safe. Salmonella, for example, can infect a hen without causing any easy-to-spot symptoms. Eggs produced by the hens and infected with salmonella also appear perfectly safe and healthy, and yet can cause serious illness within the population.
As if these problems with detection weren’t enough, new strains of salmonella are becoming more and more resistant to antibiotics, adding to the potential harm that this food safety challenge could present if it isn’t addressed quickly. For food safety professionals looking to minimize risk, one solution to this problem could be to source different ingredients for products. Instead of using raw or undercooked eggs, for example, professionals could instead opt for pasteurised eggs. For products like eggnog, Caesar salad dressing, and other items that include undercooked or raw eggs, using pasteurised eggs could help to minimize the thread of salmonella and halt this emerging concern.
How Those Who Study Food Technology Can Help Make Foods Even Safer
Study food technology and you’ll soon learn that staying ahead of emerging challenges is an important part of the hard work that professionals do. Addressing emerging food safety problems can often include updates to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP). In addition, forward-thinking food producers can also stay ahead of food safety challenges by opting for different ingredients or choosing suppliers known for producing quality and pathogen-free items.
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