Microbiological safety is a major risk concern, which has led to a much increased focus on public health and methods for establishing clear health targets. Given the difficulty of using public health goals such as an appropriate level of protection (ALOP) to establish control measures, the concept of food safety objectives (FSOs) was introduced to provide practical guidance to food safety management. It is critical that FSOs be achievable by current good industrial and consumer practices, and as we seek to improve standards of public health protection, industry must be able to meet such standards in commercial practice. This workshop also provided an opportunity for a cross-section of food safety management professionals to consider the issues in depth. The process of introducing FSOs will present a fresh challenge to the way science, government and industry interact in the future.