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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.


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

October 25, 2016 Food safety plays part in urban agriculture bill

Source: Food Safety News

As urban agriculture continues to put down roots in cities across the United States, more and more people are beginning to see its many benefits. The hope for the future is that it can flourish and sustain a new crop of farmers...

October 21, 2016 Wal-Mart to Invest $25 Million in China Food Safety Research

Source: Bloomberg

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and its foundation are investing $25 million over five years in food safety research in China, as the world’s largest retailer seeks to strengthen its foothold in the country more than two years after it was...

October 18, 2016 Without urgent action, climate change will push millions into hunger: U.N

Source: Reuters

Farmers urgently need help to adapt their methods of growing food if the world is to curb greenhouse gas emissions and prevent climate change pushing millions into hunger and poverty, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization...

October 17, 2016 PepsiCo pledges to slash beverage calorie counts by 2025

Source: CNBC

PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi pledged Monday as part of a new sustainability initiative to significantly reduce the calorie count of the company's beverages as it looks to counter health concerns about sugar-sweetened...

October 17, 2016 How Wal-Mart Manages Food Safety for 140 Million Shoppers a Week - text/video

Source: Wall Street Journal

As the company uses more small producers, it follows what Frank Yiannis calls a ‘scalable’ approach to industry benchmarks

October 4, 2016 The Monarch Butterfly is in Danger of Extinction – Here’s What You Can Do to Help

Source: One Green Planet

The population of monarch butterflies has taken a substantial drop over the past few decades – a devastating 96.5 percent to be exact. This has placed monarchs in danger of moving toward extinction, something that will cause a...

September 23, 2016 China Will Resume Limited Imports of U.S. Beef After a Ban Long Seen as Political

Source: Time

New regulations announced on Thursday mean that some American beef is welcome back in China, reversing a ban instituted after an outbreak of mad-cow disease in the U.S. in 2003.

September 22, 2016 Pesticide manufacturers' own tests reveal serious harm to honeybees

Source: The Guardian

Bayer and Syngenta criticised for secrecy after unpublished research obtained under freedom of information law linked high doses of their products to damage to the health of bee colonies

September 22, 2016 Every day’s a safety drill as Chipotle woos customers back

Source: SF Gate

There isn’t much sexy about food safety, and that goes for regular reminders to scrub hands. But for the last year, Chipotle has been forced to focus on little else, after a string of illnesses among diners at the Mexican...

September 15, 2016 Food safety expert explains when we should pay LESS attention to sell-by dates

Source: Daily Mail

Londa Nwadike, a food safety expert at the University of Missouri, says even the best dates are just guidelines - and it's important to use your common sense.

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