The Food Quality System

The significance of any food quality system has to be discussed within the context of the food supply in its entirety. The quality of our food supply is of supreme importance to us all: consumers, farmers, processors, distributors, food service operators, and the regulatory agencies. Increasing affluence has given birth to a new breed of consumer, one accustomed to eating away from home frequently. This new consumer shows greater reliance on convenience and expects safe, high-quality foods for consumption (4).

The U.S. food supply is abundant. Our preservation processes have changed dramatically and include such developments as irradiation, genetic engineering, and controlled atmospheres. Distribution includes air transport, refrigerated railroad cars, trucks, freezers, and shipments by sea. We have a global system of distribution that makes, for example, a variety of out-of-season produce available year-round, with improved taste. This complexity has brought about concerns about food safety (5).

The consumer drives the food quality system. No quality program can be successful if it does not address consumer concerns, real or perceived. F. J. Francis discusses public perception of food safety in a detailed report and urges the scientific community to stand up and speak out when something is scientifically absurd. Epidemiologists have estimated the potential deaths due to pesticides as close as zero. The FDA and National Cancer Institute have repeatedly stated that risks from pesticides are insignificant. Yet USDA appropriated $40 million for pesticide monitoring, not to increase public safety but to reassure the public. It emphasizes the need for a science-based quality system that incorporates risk assessment and a mechanism to explain to the public the benefits of such a system through a core of knowledgeable food scientists (6).

A recent survey revealed that freshness is the most important quality consumers look at when purchasing refrigerated foods (7). In the writer's view, consumers associate freshness with quality, safety, and health. A USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) study (8) indicated that in 1995, 5.4 billion lb of food were lost at the retail level, and 91 billion lb were lost by consumers and food service. Fresh fruits and vegetables accounted for nearly 20% of consumer and food service losses. It was estimated that the total annual cost of unsalables to U.S. packaged goods manufactured in the 1996 supermarket channel was $1.96 billion (9). There is a need to improve the quality of our food system, maintain food safety, and return the benefits to the consumer. The various components of the food system are interdependent. The private sector, regulators, consumers, and universities need to work closely to insure that the goals of a science-based quality system are achieved.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

If Pregnancy Is Something That Frightens You, It's Time To Convert Your Fear Into Joy. Ready To Give Birth To A Child? Is The New Status Hitting Your State Of Mind? Are You Still Scared To Undergo All The Pain That Your Best Friend Underwent Just A Few Days Back? Not Convinced With The Answers Given By The Experts?

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