International investigation of outbreaks of foodborne disease

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.313.7065.1093 (Published 02 November 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1093
  1. Robert V Tauxe,
  2. James M Hughes
  1. Chief Foodborne and Diarrhoeal Diseases Branch, Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases
  2. Director National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Public Health Service US Department of Health and Human Services, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA

    Public health responds to the globalisation of food

    In 1992, the United States Institute of Medicine published a report entitled Emerging Infections: Microbial Threats to Health in the United States.1 The report, developed by an expert committee chaired by Drs Joshua Lederberg and Robert Shope, emphasised the fact that the world is truly a global village with respect to microbes. One factor is the change in the food industry. Foods, like many pathogens, are more likely than ever to cross national borders, and a single meal can combine products from many countries. In the United States and many other countries, importing of food from other parts of the world has increased greatly.2

    One unintended consequence is that when food becomes contaminated the resulting outbreak can span continents. Indeed, Salmonella agona first spread around the world as a consequence of the use of contaminated Peruvian fish meal in chicken feed.3 More recent foodborne outbreaks of international scope include a multistate outbreak of Cyclospora cayetanenis infection in the United States and Canada related to raspberries imported from Guatemala,4 salmonellosis in the United States and several Scandinavian countries traced to alfalfa sprouts grown from imported seeds,5 6 shigellosis …

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