Biotechnology allows scientists to improve foods, create new food products and provide better tools to ensure food safety. It can assist in achieving the goal of an abundant, safe and nutritious food supply for a growing population. These technologies can lead to a greater variety of food with improved taste, nutrition and cooking quality. There are valid concerns about the widespread use of biotechnology which remain to be addressed by health, scientific and consumer constituencies. Dietitians need to be informed about biotechnology in food production and processing. They need to be aware of potential benefits and risks. Dietitians are uniquely positioned to inform the public about food safety and food products of biotechnology. Dietitians can discuss this information in understandable language and with sensitivity to public values. Dietitians should participate in the development of food-related policies at local, provincial and federal levels.
Two groups of observers, regular meat inspectors and two veterinary researchers, respectively, conducted independent veterinary meat inspection of organs of slaughter pigs from organic or conventional production systems slaughtered at one abattoir in April 2005. A total of 3054 pigs (899 organic and 2155 conventional) were examined. The observed pathological disorders were grouped in four categories; respiratory disorders (RESP), parasitic disorders (PAR), intestinal disorders (INT) and heart disorders (HEART). Using a latent class model, the sensitivity (Se) and specificity (Sp) of meat inspectors and researchers were estimated without the assumption of an available gold standard. The Se for the regular meat inspection was found to be 0.92, 0.16, 0.24 and 0.49 for RESP, PAR, INT and HEART, respectively. The Se for the researchers was found to be 0.81, 0.96, 0.91 and 0.68 for RESP, PAR, INT and HEART, respectively. The Sp for the regular meat inspection was found to be between 0.98 and 1.00 for the four categories. The Sp for the researchers was found to be 0.83, 0.94, 0.76 and 0.99 for RESP, PAR, INT and HEART, respectively. The low Se of ordinary meat inspection for parasitic, intestinal and heart disorders will cause a significant underestimation of the prevalence of diseases reported to the pig producers. Based on our results the true prevalence of diseases (conventional vs. organic slaughter pigs) was (in %): 42 vs. 16, 5 vs. 51, 5 vs. 12 and 9 vs. 5 for RESP, PAR, INT and HEART, respectively.
Folklorama in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, is a 14-day temporary food service event that explores the many different cultural realms of food, food preparation, and entertainment. In 2010, the Russian pavilion at Folklorama was implicated in a foodborne outbreak of Escherichia coli O157 that caused 37 illnesses and 18 hospitalizations. The ethnic nature and diversity of foods prepared within each pavilion presents a unique problem for food inspectors, as each culture prepares food in their own very unique way. The Manitoba Department of Health and Folklorama Board of Directors realized a need to implement a food safety information delivery program that would be more effective than a 2-h food safety course delivered via PowerPoint slides. The food operators and event coordinators of five randomly chosen pavilions selling potentially hazardous food were trained on-site, in their work environment, focusing on critical control points specific to their menu. A control group (five pavilions) did not receive on-site food safety training and were assessed concurrently. Public health inspections for all 10 pavilions were performed by Certified Public Health Inspectors employed with Manitoba Health. Critical infractions were assessed by means of standardized food protection inspection reports. The results suggest no statistically significant difference in food inspection scores between the trained and control groups. However, it was found that inspection report results increased for both the control and trained groups from the first inspection to the second, implying that public health inspections are necessary in correcting unsafe food safety practices. The results further show that in this case, the 2-h food safety course delivered via slides was sufficient to pass public health inspections. Further evaluations of alternative food safety training approaches are warranted.
In Ontario, local public health inspectors play an important frontline role in protecting the public from foodborne illness. This study was an in-depth exploration of public health inspectors' perceptions of the key food safety issues in public health, and their opinions and needs with regards to food safety information resources.
Four focus group discussions were conducted with public health inspectors from the Central West region of Ontario, Canada during June and July, 2008. A questioning route was used to standardize qualitative data collection. Audio recordings of sessions were transcribed verbatim and data-driven content analysis was performed.
A total of 23 public health inspectors participated in four focus group discussions. Five themes emerged as key food safety issues: time-temperature abuse, inadequate handwashing, cross-contamination, the lack of food safety knowledge by food handlers and food premise operators, and the lack of food safety information and knowledge about specialty foods (i.e., foods from different cultures). In general, participants reported confidence with their current knowledge of food safety issues and foodborne pathogens. Participants highlighted the need for a central source for food safety information, access to up-to-date food safety information, resources in different languages, and additional food safety information on specialty foods.
The information gathered from these focus groups can provide a basis for the development of resources that will meet the specific needs of public health inspectors involved in protecting and promoting food safety.
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Although food premises are regularly inspected, little information is available on the effect of inspections on compliance records, particularly with respect to the impact of the frequency of inspection on compliance. The following presents the outcome of a study designed to assess the impact of increased inspection frequency on compliance measures in Hamilton, Ontario, in the absence of any other changes to food handler/safety programs or legislation. High-risk food inspection premises were randomly assigned three, four, or five inspections per year. Results indicate that no statistical difference existed in outcome measures based on frequency of inspection. When premises were grouped based on the average time between inspections, premises with greater time between inspections scored better compliance measures relative to premises that were inspected more frequently. The study was also unique for the level of consultation and collaboration sought from the public health inspectors (PHIs) assigned to the Food Safety Program. Their knowledge and experience with respect to the critical variables associated with compliance were a complementary component to the literature review conducted by the research team.