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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

April 23, 2014 The Problem Isn't A Lack Of Food Production

Courant - Feeding the world's growing population is a problem that can't wait for an answer. According to the îFood and Agriculture Organization of the United Nationsî, agricultural production will need to increase 70...

April 23, 2014 U.S. at risk for food safety terrorist attack: food safety roundup

Source: Oregon Online

Antiterrorism experts warn that the United States may be vulnerable to a food safety attack. At special risk is the dairy industry, according to a story on Barfblog, a website that aggregates food safety stories from around the...

April 22, 2014 Coke's pomegranate juice on trial at US Supreme Court

Source: NBC Atlanta

ATLANTA -- The U.S. Supreme Court today heard arguments in a case that claims The Coca-Cola Co.'s advertising of a pomegranate-flavored juice is misleading.Pom Wonderful LLC, which makes a 100 percent pomegranate juice, claims...

April 17, 2014 Project Promises Better Food Safety in Europe

Source: The Pig Site

EU - The PROMISE project, set up in 2012, aims to improve food safety across the EU using a scientific approach focusing on microbiological risks and their mitigation.

April 16, 2014 US company recalls 8.7 million pounds of meat

Medical Xpress - That's just over a year's worth of meat products processed by Rancho Feeding Corp., which has been under scrutiny by the USDA îFood Safety and Inspection Serviceî. The agency said that without full...

April 16, 2014 Why even grassfed and local beef isn't sustainable

Rabble - In November, 2013, the FAO (îFood and Agriculture Organization of the United Nationsî) reported a signficant difference in the greenhouse gas emissions intensity between beef derived from animals on...

April 15, 2014 EU research offers 'promise' of improved food safety

Source: CORDIS

The issue of food safety has rocketed up the political agenda in recent years but despite huge improvements, some concerns and problems still persist. Fears about our food are moving away from issues about ensuring an adequate...

April 14, 2014 Beef prices sizzle to 27-year high

Source: Houston Chronicle

The highest beef prices in almost three decades are causing sticker shock for both consumers and restaurant owners - and relief isn't likely anytime soon. A dwindling number of cattle and growing export demand from countries...

April 14, 2014 Lawmakers look to combat seafood fraud

Source: Fox News

In a nation where 92 percent of seafood is imported and labeling fraud is rife, both state and federal lawmakers are moving to pass laws to help make sure customers are getting the seafood they are paying for.

April 11, 2014 Will Climate Change Mean Terrible Food?

Source: Pacific Standard

Carbon dioxide fertilizes plants, but it can also make crops less nutritious. A new discovery could help farmers develop new strains to feed the world even as carbon dioxide levels rise.

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