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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 24, 2015 Minnesota declares state of emergency over bird flu in poultry

Source: Today

Minnesota declared a state of emergency yesterday (April 23) over a fast-spreading strain of avian flu that has led to the extermination of more than 7.3 million birds in the country. It followed Wisconsin's action on Monday.

April 23, 2015 A Look Back at Food Safety During Obama’s First Six Years

Source: Food Safety News

Since the Obama administration took over the executive branch more than six years ago, foodborne illnesses from meat, poultry and eggs — products regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture — have fallen by 10 percent,...

April 23, 2015 Expanding Global Food Production In A Warming World

New Jersey Online - With 14 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions attributed to agriculture, according to the îFood and Agriculture Organization of the United Nationsî (FAO), farmers worldwide can play a role in...

April 22, 2015 China’s Terrifying Food Safety Track Record Is Creating Savvier Shoppers

Source: Munchies.vice.com

Glow-in-the-dark pork. Rat meat sold as lamb. Fake eggs (really). Rice contaminated with cadmium and arsenic. Exploding watermelons. Oil dipped from gutters and re-sold.

April 22, 2015 U.S. could use vaccines being developed to fight bird flu in poultry

Source: Reuters

Faced with a deadly bird flu outbreak that has infected millions of chickens and turkeys, the U.S. Agriculture Department could turn to what it has always seen as a last resort: readying and deploying a vaccine to fight the...

April 21, 2015 Kraft removing synthetic colors from iconic macaroni & cheese

Source: Reuters

Kraft Foods Group Inc on Monday said it is revamping its family-friendly macaroni and cheese meal, removing synthetic colors and preservatives from the popular boxed dinner.

April 21, 2015 Bird Flu Spreads to a Farm in Iowa With 5.3 Million Chickens

Source: NY Times

WASHINGTON — The Agriculture Department announced Monday that an outbreak of avian flu had been confirmed in what could potentially be millions of chickens at an Iowa egg producer, the largest outbreak yet in an epidemic that has...

April 21, 2015 Blue Bell Recalls All Products After Listeria Outbreak

Source: NY Times

Blue Bell Creameries, which distributes frozen desserts to about half of the United States, said that it was voluntarily recalling all of its products after the bacteria listeria was found in two cartons of ice cream.

April 21, 2015 How Food Waste Costs Our Cities Millions

Sustainable Cities Collective - Graphic by îWorld Resources Instituteî. Given the staggering effect that food production has on the environment, reducing food waste and easing the growing need for food production can...

April 16, 2015 Beech-Nut baby food recall: Glass found in jar prompts nationwide warning

Source: Syracuse.com

Upstate New York baby food manufacturer Beech-Nut Nutrition has issued a voluntary recall of 1,920 pounds of baby food after a consumer was injured by a small piece of glass in one of its products.

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