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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Radford Davis, DVM, MPH (Iowa State University)
Description: This book covers the broad topic of food safety and related subtopics from an epidemiologic perspective, lending a fresh perspective to an important field. While traditional epidemiological areas such as outbreak investigations and tracebacks are covered, the book also addresses risk assessment, data quality, and consumption patterns, in addition to more traditional topics such as HACCP, that anyone involved with keeping safe a food supply or working within the public health field would find very useful.
Purpose: The purpose is to familiarize readers with the importance of epidemiological principles in food safety, beyond the traditional role of outbreak investigations, and to apply them to such areas as prevention, policy, and risk assessment. This is a simple extension of what epidemiology is capable of and makes for sound science in meeting the needs of food safety today. The contributing authors do an overall fine job of meeting the objectives.
Audience: The book is written for epidemiologists unfamiliar with food safety and for food safety professionals unfamiliar with epidemiology. While epidemiologists will find some of the chapters more of a review, other chapters cover topics with which epidemiologists may not be readily familiar, such as risk assessment and food processing. It would also be very useful to students of food safety, including veterinary students. The editor and major author carries both the credentials and food safety experience necessary to lend authority to this book.
Features: Although the book covers some topics one might expect in a text on food safety, it also offers readers an argument of epidemiology's greater role in food safety through chapters on risk assessment, surveillance, societal costs of food-borne illnesses, measuring intake of contaminants, and the application of chronic disease epidemiological principles to food safety. Chapters on food processing, production, handling, and preparation are lean, but such topics are covered at great length in other books. The uniqueness of this book lies in how it demonstrates that epidemiology is inextricably linked to nearly all aspects of food safety, not just food-borne illness investigations. The editor purposefully steers clear of the topic of intentional contamination of food. Overall, the book would benefit from the inclusion of more and better quality illustrations and expanded discussions on food processing and production. There are a few typos. The use of case studies in the discussion of foodborne outbreaks is helpful and reflective of real-world events.
Assessment: This book offers a unique take on the field of food safety and makes us rethink how we should approach it. Despite some minor redundancy with other books in the areas of foodborne pathogens and food processing (Foodborne Microorganisms of Public Health Significance, 6th edition, Hocking (AIFST, 2003) and Food Safety: Old Habits, New Perspectives (ASM Press, 2007)) as well as in general epidemiological principles, this book is worth purchasing for its unique ability to conflate epidemiology and food safety into a meaningful, convincing, and concise volume.