Introduction and motivation

Kaye Husbands Fealing, Julia I. Lane, John L. King, Stanley R. Johnson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Overview In the United States, improving the safety of the food supply has become a national priority, and food safety research has been identified as central to achieving that goal. Yet, little is known about answers to key questions, such as: What research is already being done in the field? How many researchers are active in food safety research? What are the characteristics of those researchers? How do federal research funding patterns affect current workforce development and future research capacity? What are the reciprocal influences between food safety issues and federally funded research? In short, what are the key ways in which federal investment in food safety research funding will affect the research pipeline? Of course, these questions are not unique to food safety research, but this type of research is particularly interesting because of the diversity of scientific fields and funding sources (including agricultural, health, and veterinary) and the diversity of economic actors involved in agriculture, food production, storage, and the movement of food safety risks across domestic and international jurisdictions. Further, a continually evolving dynamic relationship exists between private-sector agriculture (including food production interests) and public-sector food safety research. To a large degree, these are scientifically complementary, with each entity exerting influence in the policy arena. In addition, the importance of the field is undeniable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 48 million individuals in the United States alone – one in every six – will get sick from a foodborne illness. Many of these foodborne illnesses will pass unacknowledged as generalized discomfort. Many will be more severe, resulting in lost time from work. Others will result in permanent disabilities or even death. The CDC estimates that 128,000 cases of foodborne illness will require medical treatment and 3,000 individuals will die every year. The literature on the economic burden of foodborne illness is estimated as up to $77 billion annually (1). The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that just 15 pathogens account for more than $15 billion of economic burden from treatment, lost work, morbidity, and mortality, and this does not include other nonpathogenic sources of food safety risk such as food contaminants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMeasuring the Economic Value of Research
Subtitle of host publicationThe Case of Food Safety
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781316671788
ISBN (Print)9781107159693
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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