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Revista Española de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 2173-9110Print version ISSN 1135-5727


FONTCUBERTA-FAMADAS, Mireia; RODELLAR-TORRAS, Santiago; PORTANA-TUDELA, Samuel  and  DURAN-NEIRA, Julia. The ICSA Program: 30 Years of Health Surveillance of Foods in Barcelona. Rev. Esp. Salud Publica [online]. 2015, vol.89, n.3, pp.249-257. ISSN 2173-9110.

The Food Health Quality Research Program (Investigación de la Calidad Sanitaria de los Alimentos [ICSA]) of the Public Health Agency of Barcelona (Agencia de Salud Pública de Barcelona [ASPB]) was initiated in 1984 to carry out surveillance of certain chemical and microbiological parameters related to the sanitary and safety of foods sold in the city. The present article analyzes the importance of health surveillance and provides details of the uses of the ICSA program. The main aim of this program is to evaluate whether marketed foods comply with the absence and/or established tolerance levels of specific parameters. Nevertheless, the program is able to incorporate or suppress parameters or foods that pose emerging dangers or interests not represented in current legislation. Besides, the program not only obtains a view of the parameters studied at a specific time period in each report, but also accumulates data over time, allowing risk assessment, calculation of dietary intake of contaminants, analysis of tendencies, and evaluation of the effectiveness of regulations to reduce contaminants. The program can also help in the planning of food control programs. The information obtained is disseminated nationally and internationally and is included in dossiers of contaminants issued by national and European health agencies. This demonstrates that a locally-developed surveillance system can have a wider scope and broader objectives and can provide useful information for managers, administrations, economic operators and consumers.

Keywords : Public health; Public health surveillance; Food safety; Food quality; Food contamination.

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