The world of food safety hasn’t been the same since the Jack in the Box outbreak 25 years ago triggered change in how both industry and government understand their responsibility to prevent foodborne illness. The process of change in policy and practices has been gradual, but sustained and driven forward by other catalytic outbreaks and contamination incidents — from peanuts and produce to melamine. The result is today’s significant alignment among government, industry and consumers on the goal of prevention and the modern practices that can achieve it. Nevertheless, preventable illness and death from foodborne hazards remains an unsolved public health problem and threat to consumer confidence in the food supply. The question to be addressed in the Keynote Address is what mix of bad events, consumer expectations, industry leadership, technological innovation and public policy will drive future food safety progress. Can we take food safety to the next level without waiting for tragic events to drive us there?
Co-Chair of the Stop Foodborne Illness Board
Former Deputy Commissioner for Food for the FDA