Food Safety: Biological Agents

  • Donald Vesley


In the next two chapters I will explore the safety issues surrounding the one product which all Americans consume every day, namely food. In this chapter I will discuss biological (infectious) agents, and in Chapter 13 I will discuss problems associated with chemicals in food. Infectious agents spread through food are acquired via the ingestion route and not surprisingly include many of the same agents implicated in waterborne disease. However, there are several differences which make food a more dangerous vehicle of transmission than water. Whereas water is provided to communities from a central source with a controlled treatment facility and distributed through closed mains to the consumer, food comes from multiple sources and goes through multiple handling steps including those of final home or restaurant preparation. Thus, there are multiple opportunities for contamination and mishandling. In addition, although water is a carrier of pathogens, it does not provide a good medium for growth and multiplication. Many foods, on the other hand, particularly those which are proteinaceous, lend themselves to proliferation to high concentrations, especially when temperatures are in the mesophilic (near body temperature) range.


Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome Foodborne Disease Norwalk Virus Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point Foodborne Infection 
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A classic text on the subject of food safety is

  1. Reiman, H. and F. L. Bryan. 1979. Foodborne Infection and Intoxication. (2nd Ed.) Academic Press. New York, NY.Google Scholar

Other useful current references in this area include

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 1996. Foodborne disease outbreaks, five year summary, 1988–1992. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 45 (SS5): 1–66.Google Scholar
  2. Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST). 1994. Foodborne Pathogens: Risks and Consequences. CAST- 4420 West Lincoln Way, Ames, Iowa 50014–3447.Google Scholar
  3. Doyle, M. P., L. R. Beuchat, and J. Montville. 1997. Food Microbiology: Fundamentals and Frontiers. ASM Press. Herndon, VA.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donald Vesley
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Environmental and Occupational Health, School of Public HealthUniversity of MinnesotaUSA

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