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The National Academies: What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

Mangoes are sliced in preparation for exportation from South America. Global food distribution increases the risk of widespread epidemics if food becomes contaminated.

Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Food Safety

Foodborne diseases are largely preventable—but the goal requires vigilance in every step from the farm to the table. Good agricultural and manufacturing practices can reduce the spread of microbes among animals and prevent contamination of foods.
Advocates have recommended that all food safety activities be consolidated into a single federal agency with a unified mission.
Monitoring the entire food production process can pinpoint hazards and identify control points where contamination can be prevented, limited, or eliminated. A formal method for evaluating risk control is called the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point, or HACCP (pronounced “has-sip”), system. First developed by the National and Aeronautics Space Administration to ensure that the food eaten by astronauts was safe, HACCP safety principles are now being applied to a widening range of foods, including meat, poultry, seafood, fruit juices, and other products.
 
In recent years, the U.S. Government Accountability Office, food safety advocates, and legislators have documented problems resulting from the fragmented nature of the nation’s food safety system. At least a dozen federal agencies, implementing at least 30 different laws, have roles in overseeing the safety of the nation’s food supply. Advocates have recommended that all food safety activities be consolidated into a single federal agency with a unified mission.
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Disease Watchlist

What do you know about infectious disease?

About how much of its fish and seafood does the United States import?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The United States imports more than 80 percent of its fish and seafood. About 20 percent of its fresh vegetables and 50 percent of its fresh fruits are imported. As wealthy nations demand such foods year-round, the increasing reliance on producers abroad means that food may be contaminated during harvesting, storage, processing, and transport—long before it reaches overseas markets.    

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The United States imports more than 80 percent of its fish and seafood. About 20 percent of its fresh vegetables and 50 percent of its fresh fruits are imported. As wealthy nations demand such foods year-round, the increasing reliance on producers abroad means that food may be contaminated during harvesting, storage, processing, and transport—long before it reaches overseas markets.    

  • Correct!

    The United States imports more than 80 percent of its fish and seafood. About 20 percent of its fresh vegetables and 50 percent of its fresh fruits are imported. As wealthy nations demand such foods year-round, the increasing reliance on producers abroad means that food may be contaminated during harvesting, storage, processing, and transport—long before it reaches overseas markets.    

Infectious Disease Defined

Transition Zone

The area, sometimes referred to as an ecotone, encompassing the edges of two distinct ecosystems, such as the area where a forest intersects with grassland.

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National Academies Press

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