The safety of our food supply, along with its quality, nutritional value and reasonable pricing, is of paramount importance to the continued success of agriculture in California. During this century, myriad government actions and improved production, processing and marketing technologies have significantly enhanced food safety and quality. The University of California’s Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension play major roles in helping and informing the consumer in each of these areas. While our researchers pioneer new food technologies, the University should ensure that these technologies promote food safety. Evidence suggests that public distrust of the food supply persists nationwide. According to the Food Marketing Institute, only 15% of the shopping public has complete confidence in the safety of the food in our nation’s supermarkets. This lack of confidence is heightened by at least three factors: 1) new technologies, whether processing technologies such as irradiation to kill microbes and enhance shelf-life or production technologies such as genetic engineering to improve food quality; 2) the use, and infrequent misuse, of synthetic pesticides to improve food production; 3) and a perceived lack of total control, or choice, by consumers over production and processing of their foods.

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