Due diligence can be considered as the implementation of a certain standard of care when it comes to the performance of duties. One application of such a practice comes in the form of investigating possible issues of food related illnesses caused by improper storage and sanitary procedures. The reason behind the spread of food borne illnesses is due to the fact that local health inspectors are improperly training and do not perform their duties to the utmost of their capabilities. This shows how important due diligence is for environmental public health since it is the difference between creating an environment where food can be eaten safely or crate the complete opposite where meals could possibly poison a person to death. It is due to this that due diligence when it comes to preventing food borne illnesses is applied through the use of bio-security which entails an examination of all incoming food to ensure that it is free from biological threats that could be harmful as well as an examination of local eateries to determine proper adherence to health codes and food preparation mandates. It is only when such practices are in place that it can be stated that professionalism in environmental public health has been implemented to ensure the safety of the general public.
The concept of professionalism in environmental public health all boils down to the process of proper due diligence when it comes to the performance of duties in the field or within the office. Due diligence can be considered as the implementation of a certain standard of care when it comes to the performance of duties (Pérez-Rodríguez & Zwietering, 2012). This manifests itself within a professional setting through the adherence of an employee or professional to a particular set of rules, regulations and ethical guidelines when in the process of accomplishing their duties. Due diligence is an important process when it comes to professionalism in environmental public health since it impacts the output produced by a professional in environmental public health. Without such a process in place, it is all too easy for mistakes to be made or for regulations not to be followed which can result in catastrophic consequences for local populations. One example of a lack of due diligence can be seen within the case of Saudi Arabia where thousands of reported instances of food poisoning occur per year with thousands of other cases going unreported due to a lack of local awareness as well as the high expense related to hospital treatment (Goater, Derne & Weinstein, 2011).
This becomes a public environmental health issue due to the sheer proliferation of restaurants and informal eating establishments that do not practice proper food preparation standards in the form of proper sanitation and storage procedures. The reason behind the spread of such cases is due to the fact that local health inspectors are improperly training and do not perform their duties to the utmost of their capabilities. Combined with various bribes being given to them to “look the other way” and give the restaurant an acceptable score, this enables the proliferation of practices which are in direct violation of environmental public health codes due to the facilitation of practices which promote disease and illness to spread among members of local populations (Mitchell, Fraser & Bearon, 2007). What this shows is that proper due diligence is an absolute necessity when it comes to environmental public health since it can make the difference between developing a safe location to eat or an area that actively causes people to become ill due to food poisoning.
Necessity of Due Diligence in Environmental Public Health – Food Borne Illnesses
Over the years, numerous processes have been developed in order to ensure that the handling and storage of food is conducted in a safe and sterile manner. These processes have been developed in response to various types of bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter jejuni and a plethora of similar pathogens that can develop in food that has not been handled, processed or stored properly (David & Katz, 2013). Without these processes in place, it is likely that outbreaks of food poisoning can occur which can have a detrimental impact on environmental public health due to the possibility of viruses and contagions spreading from one family member to another within a relatively short period of time.
When there is a lack of Due Diligence
Unfortunately, the economic reality of countries such as Pakistan, India, Saudi Arabia and China where a vast majority of the citizenry lives below the poverty line prevents the implementation of ISO 22000 safety standards given the significant extra cost that comes with the implementation of such procedures (Kaptan & Fischhoff, 2011). There is no due diligence on the part of health inspectors from these locations in the form of proper import procedural testing, proper inspections of local restaurants as well as an investigation regarding the origin of certain types of food products (Kaptan & Fischhoff, 2011). The end result is a proliferation of cases which violate environmental public health since various food stands, restaurants and informal dining establishments end up serving contaminated food which causes people to become violently ill. Such a situation can actually cause a person to die depending on the severity of their case of food poisoning.
What occurs when proper due diligence is implemented?
One manifestation of proper due diligence in environmental public health within the context of food borne illnesses can be seen in the case of Australia. Any company that wishes to import food into the country has to deal with the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS). Its main role is to ensure that all food entering into Australia is properly processed and meets the rules outlined by the DAFF (Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) based on a product’s possible bio-security threat to the populace of Australia.
Bio-security within the context of environmental public health entails an examination of all incoming food to ensure that it is free from biological threats that could be harmful. Such a practice includes foot and mouth disease, E. Coli, various bacterial strands that specifically impact particular plant varieties, Salmonella, as well as an assortment of other possible biological contaminants that could create an adverse effect for the populace of Australia (Watson, Jones, Siston, Diaz, Gerber, Crowe & Satzger, 2005).
What must be understood is that It is through the implementation of bio-security measures in the form of isolation, randomized selection, stringent laboratory testing procedures, inspection by on-site food inspectors as well as an examination of the bill of landing that help to prevent instances of food poisoning within the country. The end result of such practices is the fact that cases of food related illnesses are rare within the country which shows how proper due diligence in environmental public health can save lives and prevent people from having to undergo costly treatment for issues that are easily preventable (Selman & Green, 2008).
Based on what has been presented so far, it can be seen that due diligence is an absolute necessity when it comes to protecting the environment. This comes through adherence to established practices in inspection and investigation. It is only when such practices are in place that it can be stated that professionalism in environmental public health has been implemented to ensure the safety of the general public from harm.
David, S. D., & Katz, R. L. (2013). Navigating the Legal Framework for State Foodborne Illness Surveillance and Outbreak Response: Observations and Challenges. Journal Of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 4128-32.
Goater, S., Derne, B., & Weinstein, P. (2011). Critical Issues in the Development of Health Information Systems in Supporting Environmental Health: A Case Study of Ciguatera. Environmental Health Perspectives, 119(5), 585-590.
Kaptan, G., & Fischhoff, B. (2011). Diagnosing food-borne illness: A behavioural analysis of barriers to testing. Journal Of Public Health Policy, 32(1), 60-72.
Mitchell, R. E., Fraser, A. M., & Bearon, L. B. (2007). Preventing food-borne illness in food service establishments: Broadening the framework for intervention and research on safe food handling behaviors. International Journal Of Environmental Health Research, 17(1), 9-24
Pérez-Rodríguez, F., & Zwietering, M. H. (2012). Application of the Central Limit Theorem in microbial risk assessment: High number of servings reduces the Coefficient of Variation of food-borne burden-of-illness. International Journal Of Food Microbiology, 153(3), 413-419
Selman, C. A., & Green, L. R. (2008). Environmental Health Specialists’ Self-Reported Foodborne Illness Outbreak Investigation Practices. Journal Of Environmental Health, 70(6), 16-21.
Watson, J. T., Jones, R. C., Siston, A. M., Diaz, P. S., Gerber, S. I., Crowe, J. B., & Satzger, D. (2005). Outbreak of Food-borne Illness Associated with Plant Material Containing Raphides. Clinical Toxicology (15563650), 43(1), 17-21