Despite sustained progress in the past 100 years—in canning, sanitation, refrigeration, and beyond—food-borne illnesses have stayed with us. In recent decades the problem has taken on new dimensions. The March 2010 issue of Harvard Men's Health Watch focuses on what we can do as a society to be sure our food is safe and healthful.
Many factors contribute to the renewed concern about food safety. Agriculture and food processing have grown enormously in scale, and foods are shipped great distances. Contamination in one place can produce distant illnesses, making it difficult to recognize an outbreak quickly and track down its source.
In the United States each year, there are 76 million food-borne infections. Of these, 350,000 are serious enough to require hospitalization, and 5,000 are deadly. Prevention is, of course, the best way to fight back. The Harvard Men's Health Watch article, the first in a two-part series, emphasizes two types of prevention efforts:
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