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Focus on Food Safety

Updated January 2011 -

The year 2010 saw incidents of food-borne illness from common foods such as eggs, spinach, tomatoes, ground beef, peanut butter, candy, pet food, and cookie dough    The nearly weekly investigations and recalls of various foods items from the USA and abroad created ever- mounting  pressure on the US Congress to take action and revise the nation’s food safety laws. 

In December 2010, the first major overhaul of the food-safety system since the1930s was adopted by the Congress and then signed into law by President Barack Obama in early January 2011.  The law calls for increasing government inspections at food-processing facilities and, for the first time, gives the Food and Drug Administration the power to order the recall of unsafe foods.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that each year 1 out of 6 Americans get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from food borne diseases. 12/2010

With increased regulation opposed by many family-owned and organic farmers, the legislation still needs to be funded and with the change in the control of the US House of Representatives funding might be a huge problem. The law does set standards and now shifts the focus to other countries that export food stuffs into the United States. A January poll of consumers in China indicated that more than 70% did not have confidence in the safety of their [nation’s] food supply. China is a large supplier of food to North America. It remains to be seen if food exporting countries will raise the bar on food safety in the future as a result of the US’s action.

Food Safety will continue to be a focus of interest of corporations, Congress and the public and AC subscribers will be able to read about it all here under the Hot Topic of Food Safety.

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Food…trust – and provider accountability -- the three terms clearly go together. We consume food hundreds, even thousands of miles from its origination.  Trust is everything!  Anything we put in our bodies every day should be “trustworthy,” in terms of where it came from -- and everyone involved in the food supply chain should be accountable for their actions (or inaction in certain cases).  From grower / farmer / planter / rancher to food processor to retailer or food service or restaurant…and then to each of us – there is a clear chain of accountability. Trust is the important foundation all along the human food chain – preserving trust should be an imperative for every player.  And yet, accidents do happen.  Each year in the United States tainted foods cause an estimated 75 million illnesses resulting in more than 300,000 hospitalizations and as many as 5,000 deaths or more. (World-wide food hazards kill more than 1.8 million people each year, mostly affecting children.)

The impact on the U.S. economy in medical costs alone top $6.5 billion with maybe two or three times that number in financial losses to business, industry and government.  More and more of the food items that we in the U.S.A. consume come to our shores from foreign and third world production and processing sources, where there can be a lack of adequate sanitation or proper food handling procedures and oversight.

Even here in America, numerous food processing issues arise each year, typically involving incidents of food-borne illnesses originating from such biological hazards as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria, and these and more continue to be significant public health threats. Those at greatest risk are children, senior citizens, pregnant women and their unborn children, and those with impacted immune systems.

There is heightened interest in food safety issues on the part of consumers and their advocates; government officials at the federal, state and local levels; the healthcare community; media; and food, retailing and restaurant industries. The nation has made great progress in identifying harmful food production technologies, ramping up safety procedures, and adopting rules and regulations and to promote safer methods of handling and preparing foods.

Food Safety is all about Accountability – and trust.  The AC Hot Topic – Food Safety section is designed to present timely and useful news and information, a range of commentary, and reports on research on food safety topics.  The objective: To improve and expand the public dialogue and contribute to the goal of safer food sources, processing and monitoring for all citizens.  As always, we are interested in your comments on this important topic.

 


Latest on Focus on Food Safety

May 5, 2016 Nationwide Chicken Recall: Possible 'Foreign Matter' Contamination

Patch - Approximately 4.5 million pounds of fully cooked chicken products that may be contaminated with extraneous materials has been recalled, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service have...

May 4, 2016 Listeria prompts recall of 42 brands of frozen fruits and veggies

Source: CNN

CRF Frozen Foods announced Tuesday that it's expanding a voluntary recall of frozen organic and non-organic fruits and vegetables because of possible health risks.

May 3, 2016 GMA, EWG spar over GMO labeling

Agri Pulse - There's certainly no love lost between the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Environmental Working Group, especially when it comes to the issue of labeling genetically modified foods. > 1862

May 3, 2016 Food fraud detection is target of GMA and Battelle software

Food Quality News - The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and Battelle have launched a software tool to analyze economically motivated adulteration (EMA) vulnerabilities in the manufacturing process. GMA said it joined with...

May 2, 2016 Unchecked pollution and bad food ‘killing thousands in UK’

Source: The Guardian

Government’s failure to tackle health and safety issues, food poisoning and pollution leading to ‘largely avoidable’ deaths, says thinktank

April 28, 2016 Millions of pounds of Pilgrim's Pride chicken recalled

Source: NY.com

More than 4.5 million pounds of cooked chicken products are being recalled after authorities learned they may be contaminated with plastic, wood, rubber, metal and other "extraneous" material,

April 27, 2016 Louisiana least-prepared in nation to respond to major health emergency, new study says

Source: Houmatoday.con

Louisiana is the least-prepared state in the nation to respond to a major health emergency or disaster, according to this year's National Health Security Preparedness Index.

April 27, 2016 Chipotle Sales Tumble 23% as Food-Safety Fallout Persists

Source: Bloomberg

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. posted first-quarter sales that trailed analysts’ estimates and reported its first loss as a public company, reminding investors the chain faces a long road to recovery from the food-safety crisis that...

April 25, 2016 Company Voluntarily Recalls Frozen Vegetables Over Listeria Concerns

Source: CBS LA

A Washington-based company is voluntarily recalling frozen vegetables over concerns the products may be contaminated with listeria.

April 22, 2016 New food safety law gives states big role

Source: Press Herald

They will ensure that farmers comply with standards for water quality, sanitation, the handling and composition of compost, and worker training and hygiene.

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