Briefing Paper PA 762

Healthy People-2020
Food Safety and Governance in a Globalized World
Sandy Wong
Ching Fang Lin
Serenay Usta
Stephanie Heath
PA 735
Dr. Hyde
Wednesday April 18, 2012
Introduction and Context
With rising consumer concerns, food safety is an important public health issue for
governments around the world. Estimated by World Health Organization (WHO), the average of
people died because of unsafe food and water every year in the world is 2.2 million and among
them, 1.9 million are children (WHO, 2012). Food safety is an important public health problem
for United States as well. According to the FoodNet annual report published by the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the foodborne illness outbreak caused by E. coli
infections has declined almost 50% during the past 15 years; however, the Salmonella infections
has not reduced significantly during the same time (Figure 1). Based on the estimation of CDC,
the Salmonella infections result most hospitalizations and deaths each year. Showed in Figure 2,
the annual economic cost of the Salmonella infections is approximately 2.7 billion (USDA,
2011). While the illness of dangerous type of E. coli can be cut by half, why the same quantity of
people still get sick because of Salmonella as fifteen years ago? How can or why can’t we apply
lessons learned from E. coli to reduce the infections caused by Salmonella? Such questions
present the significance of food safety issue in the United States (CDC, 2011).
As a result of globalization of trade in food, the issue of food safety has become more
complex. Globalization is an ongoing and accelerating process that results in global economic,
political, cultural and environmental interconnections among people, corporations and countries
(Steger, 2010). Accordingly, public health in the United States is increasing threatened by the
food safety incidences emerged in other countries. While globalization makes the borders of
political boundaries irrelevant in the food safety issues, it is placing immense pressures on
national governments to integrate and collaborate within a global economic system (Lin, 2011).
To effectively accomplish these benchmarks, HHS in the leading position to tackle the food
safety issue increasingly relies on collaborative governance which governments, NGOs and
companies at local, national and international levels (Figure3) together to engage in “consensusoriented decision making” regarding the food safety issue (Ansell &Gash, 2007).
The Big Question
Despite the warnings, knowledge and news stories about food borne illnesses such as
salmonella, listeria, vibrio and most recently the “pink slime” epidemic, these types of illness is
still a highly significant source of human disease. New food safety messages to consumers on a
global level will prove to create a more successful relay of information which will hopefully
make for more sincere consumers and less food borne illnesses and even deaths. But how do we
make these messages reach all areas of the globe? Most importantly, how do we make food safe
for everyone on a global scale? In figure 5, are recommendations to achieve food safety.
Narrowing down who is in charge of food processing, consumption and relaying the
messages to the consumer is the most relevant piece of information when answering these types
of questions. Is it farmers and small agricultural business owners; is it the public sector or the
private sector? According to an article from Agriculture and Human Values, experts have
identified that there are issues from water quality to personal hygiene that are critical areas of
food safety that if handled correctly could decrease the risk associated with food borne illnesses.
How do we get all farmers to follow these types of practices where food safety is concerned? By
forcing farmers and those in charge of food production into practicing safer procedures that are
most likely more time consuming the price of healthier food will rise which will put consumers
who can’t afford certain types of food into purchasing unhealthy food or chemically enhanced
food and how do we know if that is any better? How to grow and create (non-chemically) and
ensure food that is healthy, fresh and pure for all consumers is the big question at hand.
Driving Forces
Challenges of driving forces assessed by all stakeholders in sustaining food safety emerge
from economic, demographic, cultural, and social dimensions. Figure 1 summarizes how global
trends frame forces that are affecting policy outcomes and management strategies. Cultural
differences reflect variety of perceptions and preferences of communities regarding food
selection. Its main implication is creation of different safety considerations affecting food trade
globally. Producers are required to meet cultural expectations. Administrative and political
component of the diagram points to differences among food safety regulations. Parallel to
cultural differences of societies, governments may have different attitudes towards food safety. It
leads different policies and measures taken by governments that sustain food safety
considerations. As a result, International Food Health Organizations tend to streamline this
variety of regulations to maintain a global food standard.
From the geographical perspective, environmental conditions of each country propose a
challenge for food producers. Climate changes, pollution, farmers’ choice of pesticides, chemical
contaminants, diversity of food preservation ways, and access to overseas are some of the
challenges food health industry should be dealing with. Ultimately, these affect product features.
Agriculture and livestock industries have to comply with global environmental changes as well
as they have to meet a certain level of production to make profit while meeting consumer
demands. Lastly, economic determinant of the diagram shows that economic development of
countries may result in their varying level of strength in prioritizing food safety in their policies.
For example, government financial capability can enhance its inspections regarding customs
control and food sampling at borders. Or, governments could incentivize producers to use
healthy and qualified methods. Likewise, consumers’ personal income level can change their
actions to allocate necessary care for their foods. All these four components are interrelated with
a collaborated governance strategy that is recommended in Figure 4.
Questions for the Future
With the constant advancement of science, food is being genetically modified to be more
sustainable to different elements. Due to genetically modified foods, more food is available to
meet humanities demands. However, this advancement in food science can create issues in the
future. With abundance of food, it can lead humanity to over consume; over consumption can
cause health problems such as obesity and diabetes. Furthermore, there are limited amounts of
scientific evidences to prove that genetically modified foods do not inflict harm to the human
body. This raises the question to whether genetically modifying foods for quality and quantity
will do more harm than benefits to humanity; will it create more issues in the long run?
Moreover, if proven that genetically modified foods are harming humans, how will the
government handle the backlash?
The luxury of enjoying foods from all over the world also comes with downfalls.
Different countries have different regulations; and these regulations might not necessarily meet
the safety standards of other countries. Other than regulations, other issues such as corruption
can also jeopardize the level of safety in a product. When faced with situations such as these,
how can countries with higher standards (i.e., United States and Canada) assure the safety of
imported foods for the people of their own country? Perhaps universal guidelines can be created
for all counties to follow; but who will oversee the countries actions and to assure that they are
following guidelines? More importantly, how do we assure all countries, which operate
independently, continue to follow the guidelines to food safety?
Ansell, C., & Gash, A. (2008). Collaborative governance in theory and practice. Journal of
public administration research & theory, 18(4), 543-571
Ghemawat, P. (2001). Distance Still Matters: The Hard Reality of Global Expansion. Harvard
Business Review.
Lin, C. (2011). Global food safety: Exploring key elements for an international regulatory
strategy. Virginia journal of international law, 51 (3), 637-695.
Parker, S et. al. (2012). Including growers in the food safety conversation: enhancing the design
and implementation of food safety programming based in farm and marketing needs of fresh fruit
and vegetable producers. Agriculture and Human Values
DOI: 10.1007/s10460-012-9360-3
Steger, M. (2010). Globalization. a Brief Insight: Sterling Publishing Co, Inc.: New York
The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (2011), Trends in foodborne illness, 1996–2010.
Retrieved from
US Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service (2010), Foodborne illness cost
calculator: Salmonella [Data file], Retrieved from
&s=28 7&y=2010&n=2794374
World Health Organization (2012). Food safety [ WWW page]. Retrieved from
Source: The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention
Source: USDA/ Economic Research Service
Figure3 Government Matrix
Global & transnational food
World Health Organizations
companies; Media
Third Sector
International food safety
advocacy NGOs ie. Safe
Food International
ie. Coco Cola
Domestic food companies
Federal agencies
ie. Dole
Health People 2020
Domestic public health
advocacy NGOs ie. National
Environmental Health
Local business
State & local governments
ie. local grocery, famers
-departments of public
State & local NGOs ie. UC
Davis Center for Consumer
CAGE Framework
Figure 4
Administrative and
Different cultural
perceptions and
preferences on food
Differences among
food safety regulations
Choice of pesticides
effected by
Food Trade Between
Policies and measures
taken by Governments
that sustain food safety
International Food
Health Organizations
Agriculture and
Product Features
Average Personal
strength to
prioritize food
demand for food
Figure 5
Government assistant programs (i.e., WIC and food stamps)
Subsidizing farmers
Using different agencies to educate the public on food safety
 Government, school department, non-profit, and media
Holding producers accountable:
 Food and Drug Administration
 United States Department of Agriculture
 Centers of Disease Control
National Food Committee:
 Oversee strict food regulations
 Create food with tags that indicate safety information of product
 Assuring all departments are meeting the goals to food safety
Using the number of food-borne illnesses before and after implanting changes