Scientific information pertaining to the incidence of foodborne disease and the sources of pathogenic microorganisms is often limited in relation to the knowledge needed to make informed microbiological food safety decisions. Inherent limitations in the current epidemiological reporting system constrain its usefulness for ascertaining the true incidence of foodborne disease. Additionally, current detection methods are insufficient to make real-time decisions on the microbiological safety of products. An integrated approach that combines enhanced epidemiological data, improved detection methods, detailed knowledge of the behavior of pathogens in food systems, and development of techniques for making quantitative risk assessments is essential for the development of a comprehensive, cost-effective strategy for assuring microbiologically safe foods.

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Author notes

Originally presented as part of a symposium on “Perceptions on Food Safety” at the 1992 Annual Meeting of the International Association of Milk, Food, and Environmental Sanitarians, Toronto, Canada.