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Food Safety in Three Dimensions: Safety, Diet Quality, and Bio-Security

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Choices Magazine, 4th Quarter 2005 CHOICES The magazine of food, farm, and resource issues 4th Quarter 2005 • 20(4) CHOICES 269 A publication of the American Agricultural Economics Association 4th Quarter 2005 • 20(4) ©1999–2005 CHOICES. All rights reserved. Articles may be reproduced or electronically distributed as long as attribution to Choices and the American Agricultural Economics Association is maintained. Choices subscriptions are free and can be obtained through Food Safety in Three Dimensions: Safety, Diet Quality, and Bio-Security by Jean Kinsey Food safety in three dimensions refers to the matrix of is- sues and activities that lead to safe food consumption in today’s world. Starting with the first principle that food should nourish the body and not cause illness, debilita- tion, or death, a broader concept, “safe food consump- tion,” is called for. Food safety typically refers to food that is free from harmful, but naturally occurring microbiologi- cal contamination. Safe food consumption includes: 1. safety from known (chemical or biological) substances that lead to known (or unknown) illness or death (bot- ulism, pesticides, cholera) 2. safety from long-term chronic diseases related to qual- ity of diets (diabetes, heart disease) 3. safety from deliberate contamination anywhere along the supply chain of an otherwise safe food supply (bio or chemical terrorism) Since violating any one of these three safety mandates leads to unsafe food consumption, it takes all three to bring safety, quality, and security to the food system. It takes the cooperation of all parties in the food chain (farmers, manufacturers, retailers, consumers, and all their service providers and regulators) to deliver the safe consumption of food. When food harms people, it is every- body’s problem. The immediate victims become ill or die, other consumers’ health care costs rise, employers lose employees, and the profitability of the supply chain that handled

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