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Food Safety: Emerging Issues, Technologies and Systems

Food safety science is dynamic. Not only are molecular fingerprinting methods developing with increasing speed, but their costs are falling even faster. As ever we have to face the challenge presented by evolution: our microbial adversaries are changing too, often in an unpredictable way. Making sure that food handler training is effective and its impact is sustained requires us to be sociologists as well as microbiologists. We have to be Jacks-of-all-trades and masters of everything!

This book helps us on our way. Its three sections focus on developments in food safety tracking and traceability, new strategies for studying foodborne pathogen ecology and new developments in food safety education, food systems and training.

Five of the six chapters in the first section have authors based at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. Nevertheless, with only one exception (the chapter describing computer systems for whole-chain traceability in beef production systems, which focuses exclusively on US practice), their approach is international. Indeed, the first sentence in Chapter one on the Global Food Safety Initiative, starts with a bit of British history, by pointing out that in the 1970s and 1980s our private label brands including Sainsbury’s, Asda, Tesco and Waitrose, saw a doubling of their market share.

Other chapters in this section cover microbial source tracking using indicator organisms as applied to fresh produce production, biotracing using quantitative mathematical modelling, the application of molecular methods in tracing foodborne pathogens and current and likely future developments in the application of microbial process indicators in addressing the problem of Salmonella contamination of chicken carcases. The eight chapters in the next section of the book deal with individual pathogens and consider the usual suspects:

Salmonella control in the US and the possible application of antimicrobials other than antibiotics,

• transcriptomic, proteomic and metabolomic approaches for studying Listeria,

• foodborne illness caused by Staphylococcus aureus,

• the dietary control of STEC (Shiga toxin producing Escherichia coli) in ruminant hosts (still very much work in progress!), and

• current perspectives on Campylobacter.

Three chapters by British authors, Jodie Score and Carol Phillips from Northampton, Stephen Forsythe from Nottingham and Katie Laird from Leicester, cover Arcobacter, Cronobacter, Acinetobacter, Aeromonas and Clostridium difficile.

The final section of the book considers education and training. The first three chapters on food safety at farmers markets, retail food safety education and food handler education, including that of senior school pupils and through social media, are written from a US perspective. This does not diminish their value for readers elsewhere; the problems they address and their solutions have universal application. A detailed and thorough review of approaches to ensure good food handler practice by training and other approaches by Elke Stedefeldt and her colleagues appears in the book without institutional attribution. It is a pity that their Brazilian location was not acknowledged.

The book concludes with an account of issues surrounding US beef production written for veterinarians and another on ‘Food safety training and teaching in the United Kingdom and Europe’, a chapter with a title that speaks for itself and finishes with a comprehensive index.

This is an attractively produced and authoritative book. The chapters are well referenced and although meaty, with lots of detailed information, give good introductions to the specialist topic that they cover. They will be as useful to those starting careers in food science as they are to established specialists. An excellent book.

Prof Hugh Pennington, 13 Carlton Place, Aberdeen AB15 4BR

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