A review of the top 100 most cited papers on food safety

Main Article Content

Helen Onyeaka
Christian K. Anumudu https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2374-0178
Chioke A. Okolo
Amara Anyogu https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9652-7728
Olumide Odeyemi https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6041-5027
Anthony P. Bassey https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9322-7228


foodborne illness, contamination, bibliometric analysis, food safety, VOS viewer


With the ever-increasing changes and growing scientific output in the field of food safety, it has become imperative to measure, analyze, characterize and compare existing publications quantitatively. The present study aimed to identify and analyze the characteristics of the 100 top-cited studies on food safety. Food safety articles published in the Web of Science Core Collection database between 1950 and 2020 were collected, and bibliometric parameters were assessed. Data analysis was performed using VOSviewer software to visualize linkages and establish relationships between articles, keywords, research areas, authors, countries and institutions, among others, providing insight into the most impactful studies related to food safety. This study highlights that research focused on food safety is growing rapidly globally and cuts across several fields, including biotechnology, microbiology, food processing and preservation, consumer studies, and policy development. There is a dearth of research articles in the areas of chemical contamination of foods by pesticides and other chemical residues and in food fraud detection and prevention studies.

Abstract 668 | PDF Downloads 584 HTML Downloads 44 XML Downloads 48


Alghamdi, B.A., Alshumrani, E.S., Saeed, M.S.B., Rawas, G.M., Alharthi, N.T., Baeshen, M.N., Helmi, N.M., Alam, M.Z. and Suhail, M., 2020. Analysis of sugar composition and pesticides using HPLC and GC–MS techniques in honey samples collected from Saudi Arabian markets. Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences 27(12): 3720–3726. 10.1016/j.sjbs.2020.08.018

Alsammarraie, F.K. and Lin, M., 2017. Using standing gold nanorod arrays as surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) substrates for detection of carbaryl residues in fruit juice and milk. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 65(3): 666–674. 10.1021/acs.jafc.6b04774

Antoniou, G.A., Antoniou, S.A., Georgakarakos, E.I., Sfyroeras, G.S. and Georgiadis, G.S., 2015. Bibliometric analysis of factors predicting increased citations in the vascular and endovascular literature. Annals of Vascular Surgery 29(2): 286–292. 10.1016/j.avsg.2014.09.017

Anumudu, C., Hart, A., Miri, T. and Onyeaka, H., 2021. Recent advances in the application of the antimicrobial peptide nisin in the inactivation of spore-forming bacteria in foods. Molecules 26(18): 5552. 10.3390/molecules26185552

Birkle, C., Pendlebury, D.A., Schnell, J. and Adams, J., 2020. Web of science as a data source for research on scientific and scholarly activity. Quantitative Science Studies 1(1): 363–376. 10.1162/qss_a_00018

Cappelletti-Montano, B., Columbu, S., Montaldo, S. and Musio, M., 2021. New perspectives in bibliometric indicators: moving from citations to citing authors. Journal of Informetrics 15(3): 101164. 10.1016/j.joi.2021.101164

Chan, E., Griffiths, S. and Chan, C., 2008. Public-health risks of melamine in milk products. The lancet 372(9648): 1444–1445. 10.1016/S0140-6736(08)61604-9

Chung, I.-M., Kim, J.-K., Lee, J.-K. and Kim, S.-H., 2015. Discrimination of geographical origin of rice (Oryza sativa L.) by multielement analysis using inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy and multivariate analysis. Journal of Cereal Science 65: 252–259. 10.1016/j.jcs.2015.08.001

Currie, J., Graff Zivin, J., Meckel, K., Neidell, M. and Schlenker, W., 2013. Something in the water: contaminated drinking water and infant health. Canadian Journal of Economics (Revue canadienne d’économique) 46(3): 791–810. 10.1111/caje.12039

Dewey-Mattia, D., Manikonda, K., Hall, A.J., Wise, M.E. and Crowe, S.J., 2018. Surveillance for foodborne disease outbreaks—United States, 2009–2015. MMWR Surveillance Summaries 67(10): 1. 10.15585/mmwr.ss6710a1

Ehuwa, O., Jaiswal, A.K. and Jaiswal, S., 2021. Salmonella, food safety and food handling practices. Foods 10(5): 907. 10.3390/foods10050907

European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), 2015. The European Union summary report on trends and sources of zoonoses, zoonotic agents and food-borne outbreaks in 2014. EFSA Journal 13(12): 190, Article 4329. 10.2903/j.efsa.2015.4329

European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), 2017. The European Union summary report on trends and sources of zoonoses, zoonotic agents and food-borne outbreaks in 2016. EFSA Journal 15(12): 228, Article 5077. 10.2903/j.efsa.2017.5077

Falagas, M.E., Zarkali, A., Karageorgopoulos, D.E., Bardakas, V. and Mavros, M.N., 2013. The impact of article length on the number of future citations: a bibliometric analysis of general medicine journals. PLoS ONE 8(2): e49476. 10.1371/journal.pone.0049476

Fenton, J., Roy, D., Hughes, J. and Jones, A., 2002. A century of citation classics in otolaryngology—head and neck surgery journals. Journal of Laryngology & Otology 116(7): 494–498. 10.1258/002221502760132557

Garfield, E., 2006. The history and meaning of the journal impact factor. JAMA 295(1): 90–93. 10.1001/jama.295.1.90

Hafeez, D.M., Jalal, S. and Khosa, F., 2019. Bibliometric analysis of manuscript characteristics that influence citations: a comparison of six major psychiatry journals. Journal of Psychiatric Research 108: 90–94. 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2018.07.010

Hart, A., Anumudu, C., Onyeaka, H. and Miri, T., 2021. Application of supercritical fluid carbon dioxide in improving food shelf-life and safety by inactivating spores: a review. Journal of Food Science and Technology 59(2): 417–428. 10.1007/s13197-021-05022-7

Hicks, D., 2012. Performance-based university research funding systems. Research Policy 41(2): 251–261. 10.1016/j.respol.2011.09.007

Huang, Y., Wang, X., Lai, K., Fan, Y. and Rasco, B.A., 2020. Trace analysis of organic compounds in foods with surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy: methodology, progress, and challenges. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety 19(2): 622–642. 10.1111/1541-4337.12531

Jeong, K.O., Kim, S.S., Park, S.H. and Kang, D.H., 2020. Inactivation of Escherichia coli, Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, and Bacillus cereus in roasted grain powder by radio frequency heating. Journal of Applied Microbiology 129(5): 1227–1237. 10.1111/jam.14705

Jung, Y., Lee, J., Kwon, J., Lee, K.-S., Ryu, D.H. and Hwang, G.-S., 2010. Discrimination of the geographical origin of beef by 1H NMR-based metabolomics. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 58(19): 10458–10466. 10.1021/jf102194t

Khan, S., Cao, Q., Zheng, Y.M., Huang, Y.Z. and Zhu, Y.G., 2008. Health risks of heavy metals in contaminated soils and food crops irrigated with wastewater in Beijing, China. Environmental Pollution 152(3): 686–692. 10.1016/j.envpol.2007.06.056

Khan, M.S., Usman, M.S., Fatima, K., Hashmani, N., Siddiqi, T.J., Riaz, H., Khan, A.R. and Khosa, F., 2017. Characteristics of highly cited articles in interventional cardiology. The American Journal of Cardiology 120(11): 2100–2109. 10.1016/j.amjcard.2017.08.030

Kim, H., Wahid, M., Choi, C., Das, P., Jung, S. and Khosa, F., 2020. Bibliometric analysis of manuscript characteristics that influence citations: a comparison of ten major dermatology journals. Burns 46(7): 1686–1692. 10.1016/j.burns.2020.05.002

Kirk, M.D., Pires, S.M., Black, R.E., Caipo, M., Crump, J.A., Devleesschauwer, B., Dopfer, D., Fazil, A., Fischer-Walker, C.L., Hald, T., Hall, A.J., Keddy, K.H., Lake, R.J., Lanata, C.F., Torgerson, P.R., Havelaar, A.H. and Angulo, F.J., 2015. World Health Organization estimates of the global and regional disease burden of 22 foodborne bacterial, protozoal, and viral diseases, 2010: a data synthesis. Plos Medicine 12(12): 21, Article e1001921. 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001921

Lerma-García, M., Gori, A., Cerretani, L., Simó-Alfonso, E. and Caboni, M., 2010. Classification of Pecorino cheeses produced in Italy according to their ripening time and manufacturing technique using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. Journal of Dairy Science 93(10): 4490–4496. 10.3168/jds.2010-3199

Lisa, M., Chouhan, R., Vinayaka, A., Manonmani, H. and Thakur, M., 2009. Gold nanoparticles based dipstick immunoassay for the rapid detection of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane: an organochlorine pesticide. Biosensors and Bioelectronics 25(1): 224–227. 10.1016/j.bios.2009.05.006

Logan, N., Haughey, S.A., Liu, L., Burns, D.T., Quinn, B., Cao, C. and Elliott, C.T., 2022. Handheld SERS coupled with QuEChERs for the sensitive analysis of multiple pesticides in basmati rice. NPJ Science of Food 6(1): 1–11. 10.1038/s41538-021-00117-z

Loonen, M.P., Hage, J.J. and Kon, M., 2008. Plastic surgery classics: characteristics of 50 top-cited articles in four plastic surgery journals since 1946. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 121(5): 320e–327e. 10.1097/PRS.0b013e31816b13a9

Man, J.P., Weinkauf, J.G., Tsang, M. and Sin, J.H.D.D., 2004. Why do some countries publish more than others? An international comparison of research funding, English proficiency and publication output in highly ranked general medical journals. European Journal of Epidemiology 19(8): 811–817. 10.1023/B:EJEP.0000036571.00320.b8

Mattos, F.d.F., Perazzo, M.F., Vargas-Ferreira, F., Martins-Júnior, P.A. and Paiva, S.M., 2021. Top 100 most-cited papers in core dental public health journals: bibliometric analysis. Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology 49(1): 40–46. 10.1111/cdoe.12572

Miao, Y., Xu, S.-Y., Chen, L.-S., Liang, G.-Y., Pu, Y.-P. and Yin, L.-H., 2017. Trends of long noncoding RNA research from 2007 to 2016: a bibliometric analysis. Oncotarget 8(47): 83114. 10.18632/oncotarget.20851

Moed, H., Burger, W., Frankfort, J. and Van Raan, A., 1985. The application of bibliometric indicators: important field-and time-dependent factors to be considered. Scientometrics 8(3–4): 177–203. 10.1007/BF02016935

Moon, J., Yun, E., Yoon, D., Choi, C., Seo, Y., Cho, Y., Lim, K., Baek, S., Hong, S.J. and Yoon, S., 2017. The 100 most-cited articles focused on ultrasound imaging: a bibliometric analysis. European Journal of Ultrasound (Ultraschall in der Medizin) 38(03): 311–317. 10.1055/s-0042-120259

Mortensen, M., Andersen, H.J., Engelsen, S.B. and Bertram, H.C., 2006. Effect of freezing temperature, thawing and cooking rate on water distribution in two pork qualities. Meat Science, 72(1): 34–42. 10.1016/j.meatsci.2005.05.027

Onodera, N. and Yoshikane, F., 2015. Factors affecting citation rates of research articles. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology 66(4): 739–764. 10.1002/asi.23209

Onyeaka, H., Miri, T., Hart, A., Anumudu, C. and Nwabor, O.F., 2021. Application of ultrasound technology in food processing with emphasis on bacterial spores. Food Reviews International 1–13. E-pub ahead of print. 10.1080/87559129.2021.2013255

Onyeaka, H., Nwabor, O., Jang, S., Obileke, K., Hart, A., Anumudu, C. and Miri, T., 2022. Sous vide processing: a viable approach for the assurance of microbial food safety. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. E-pub ahead of print. 10.1002/jsfa.11836

Pagell, R.A., 2014. Bibliometrics and university research rankings demystified for librarians. In Library and information sciences Springer, Berlin, pp. 137–160. 10.1007/978-3-642-54812-3_10

Peng, M.-S., Chen, C.-C., Wang, J., Zheng, Y.-L., Guo, J.-B., Song, G. and Wang, X.-Q., 2021. The top 100 most-cited papers in long non-coding RNAs: a bibliometric study. Cancer Biology & Therapy 22(1): 40–54. 10.1080/15384047.2020.1844116

Qin, J., Kim, M.S., Chao, K., Chan, D.E., Delwiche, S.R. and Cho, B.-K., 2017. Line-scan hyperspectral imaging techniques for food safety and quality applications. Applied Sciences 7(2): 125. 10.3390/app7020125

Raeisossadati, M.J., Danesh, N.M., Borna, F., Gholamzad, M., Ramezani, M., Abnous, K. and Taghdisi, S.M., 2016. Lateral flow based immunobiosensors for detection of food contaminants. Biosensors and Bioelectronics 86, 235–246. 10.1016/j.bios.2016.06.061

Rather, I.A., Koh, W.Y., Paek, W.K. and Lim, J., 2017. The sources of chemical contaminants in food and their health implications. Frontiers in Pharmacology 8: 830. 10.3389/fphar.2017.00830

Reed, G.H., Kent, J.O. and Wittwer, C.T., 2007. High-resolution DNA melting analysis for simple and efficient molecular diagnostics. Pharmacogenomics 8(6): 597–608. 10.2217/14622416.8.6.597

Scallan, E., Hoekstra, R.M., Angulo, F.J., Tauxe, R.V., Widdowson, M.A., Roy, S.L., Jones, J.L. and Griffin, P.M., 2011. Foodborne Illness acquired in the United States—major pathogens. Emerging Infectious Diseases 17(1): 7–15. 10.3201/eid1701.P11101

Shamloo, E., Hosseini, H., Moghadam, Z.A., Larsen, M.H., Haslberger, A. and Alebouyeh, M., 2019. Importance of listeria monocytogenes in food safety: a review of its prevalence, detection, and antibiotic resistance. Iranian Journal of Veterinary Research, 20(4): 241. 10.26656/fr.2017.4(1).155

Sharma, R.K., Agrawal, M. and Marshall, F., 2007. Heavy metal contamination of soil and vegetables in suburban areas of Varanasi, India. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety 66(2): 258–266. 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2005.11.007

Shekhani, H.N., Shariff, S., Bhulani, N., Khosa, F. and Hanna, T.N., 2017. Bibliometric analysis of manuscript characteristics that influence citations: a comparison of six major radiology journals. American Journal of Roentgenology 209(6): 1191–1196. 10.2214/AJR.17.18077

Shen, C., Wei, M. and Sheng, Y., 2021. A bibliometric analysis of food safety governance research from 1999 to 2019. Food Science & Nutrition, 9(4): 2316–2334. 10.1002/fsn3.2220

Spink, J., Bedard, B., Keogh, J., Moyer, D.C., Scimeca, J. and Vasan, A., 2019. International survey of food fraud and related terminology: Preliminary results and discussion. Journal of Food Science 84(10): 2705–2718. 10.1111/1750-3841.14705

Spink, J. and Moyer, D.C., 2011. Defining the public health threat of food fraud. Journal of Food Science 76(9): R157–R163. 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2011.02417.x

Šubelj, L., Fiala, D. and Bajec, M., 2014. Network-based statistical comparison of citation topology of bibliographic databases. Scientific Reports 4(1): 1–10. 10.1038/srep06496

Thompson, L.A. and Darwish, W.S., 2019. Environmental chemical contaminants in food: review of a global problem. Journal of Toxicology 2019: 2345283. 10.1155/2019/2345283

Toth, G., Hermann, T., Da Silva, M.R. and Montanarella, L., 2016. Heavy metals in agricultural soils of the European Union with implications for food safety. Environment International 88: 299–309. 10.1016/j.envint.2015.12.017

US Department of Agriculture (USDA), 2019. FY 2019 Budget summary. Available at: https://www.usda.gov/sites/default/files/documents/fy19-budget-summary.pdf (Accessed 13 May).

US Department of Agriculture (USDA), 2020. FY 2020 Budget summary. Available at: https://www.usda.gov/sites/default/files/documents/fy2020-budget-summary.pdf (Accessed 13 May).

US Department of Agriculture (USDA), 2021. FY 2021 Budget summary. Available at: https://www.usda.gov/sites/default/files/documents/usda-fy2021-budget-summary.pdf (Accessed 13 May).

US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA), 2018. Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)—FSMA final rule for preventive controls for human food. US FDA, Silver Spring, MD.

US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA)., 2020. Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)—FSMA final rule for preventive controls for human food. Available at: https://www.fda.gov/food/guidanceregulation/fsma/ucm334115.htm (Accessed 14 January 2022).

Van Cauwenberghe, L. and Janssen, C.R., 2014. Microplastics in bivalves cultured for human consumption. Environmental Pollution 193: 65–70. 10.1016/j.envpol.2014.06.010

Van Eck, N.J. and Waltman, L., 2010. Software survey: VOS viewer, a computer program for bibliometric mapping. Scientometrics 84(2): 523–538. 10.1007/s11192-009-0146-3

Varilla, C., Marcone, M. and Annor, G.A., 2020. Potential of cold plasma technology in ensuring the safety of foods and agricultural produce: a review. Foods 9(10): 1435. 10.3390/foods9101435

Waltman, L., 2016. A review of the literature on citation impact indicators. Journal of Informetrics 10(2): 365–391. 10.1016/j.joi.2016.02.007

Ware, M. and Mabe, M., 2015. The STM report: an overview of scientific and scholarly journal publishing. Copyright, Fair Use, Scholarly Communication, etc. 9. Available at: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/scholcom/9

World Health Organization (WHO), 2015. WHO estimates of the global burden of foodborne diseases: foodborne disease burden epidemiology reference group 2007–2015. WHO, Geneva, Switzerland.

World Health Organization (WHO), 2020. Food safety. Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/food-safety (Accessed 3 April 2021).

World Health Organization (WHO), 2022a. Estimating the burden of foodborne diseases. Available at: https://www.who.int/activities/estimating-the-burden-of-foodborne-diseases (Accessed 14 January 2022).

World Health Organization (WHO), 2022b. Foodborne diseases. Available at: https://www.who.int/health-topics/foodborne-diseases#tab=tab_1 (Accessed 14 January 2022).

Xiu, C. and Klein, K.K., 2010. Melamine in milk products in China: examining the factors that led to deliberate use of the contaminant. Food Policy 35(5): 463–470. 10.1016/j.foodpol.2010.05.001

Yamazoe, Y., Yamamoto, S., Yoshida, M., Kawanisi, T. and Kumagai, S., 2021. Subject fields in food safety during 10 years. Food Safety 9(2): 25–31. 10.14252/foodsafetyfscj.D-21-00007

Yeung, A.W., 2018. The 100 most cited papers concerning the insular cortex of the brain: a bibliometric analysis. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 12, 337. 10.3389/fnhum.2018.00337

Zhang, Y., Quan, L., Xiao, B. and Du, L., 2019. The 100 top-cited studies on vaccine: a bibliometric analysis. Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics 15(12): 3024–3031. 10.1080/21645515.2019.1614398

Zhang, Y., Xiong, Y., Cai, Y., Zheng, L. and Zhang, Y., 2020. The 100 top-cited studies on neuropsychology: a bibliometric analysis. Frontiers in Psychology 11: 3306. 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.550716