Produce food safety: Challenges in implementing improved practices


This presentation about the need for improved global food safety was delivered by Jeffrey LeJeune of Ohio State at “Postharvest in Horticulture: Reducing losses and improving quality to capture high-value crops” at the University of California Washington Center in Washington, D.C., on July 24, 2014.

LeJeune is a food safety specialist and a professor in the college of Veterinary Medicine at Ohio State University.

His presentation shared key facts from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), including an estimate that with current global trends in population and diets, the world will require 60 percent more food by 2050. As a result, there is a concerted need for food loss to be decreased and food production increased. Almost a billion individuals go hungry while one-third of the food produced worldwide is wasted in the food supply chain. Most food loss in low-income countries occurs during storage, transport and processing, while food losses in high-income countries occur most frequently at the consumer and retail levels.

Across the world foodborne illnesses affect 4 billion individuals with illness and caused 2.2 million deaths. In the United States, foodborne illnesses result in 128,000 hospitalizations, 48 million illnesses and 3,000 deaths.

To build capacity in food safety, LeJeune pointed to activities such as a food safety assessment, communications and outreach, and evaluation. These assessments should determine what the country's primary concerns are. Key input can come from in-country public health monitoring, third-party assessments from agencies like the World Health Organization and non-governmental organizations, as well as research investigating public health and food contamination. Prioritization should focus on which interventions are predicted to:

  • Be adopted
  • Be sustainable
  • What is the impact on contamination?
  • What is the impact on health?

LeJeune also provided a summary of his work related to knowledge transfer pathways and farmer mental models related to food safety, as part of a Horticulture Innovation Lab research project he leads in Central America.

Learn more about this project: Delivering food safety education through social networks in Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua


Value Chain

Food safety