Food safety matters because foodborne illnesses are a burden on public health and contribute significantly to the cost of health care. Each year foodborne illnesses sicken 48 million Americans (approximately 17% of people in the United States) and lead to 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths Food hazards, including germs and chemical contaminants, can enter the food supply at any point from farm to table.
Most of these hazards cannot be detected in food when it is purchased or consumed. In addition, a food itself can cause severe adverse reactions in people who are allergic to it. In the United States, food allergies are a significant concern, both among children under age 18 and some adults