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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

February 11, 2016 Can Chipotle make a comeback after outbreaks? Food safety experts weigh in

Source: Today

Chipotle was one of the most popular restaurant chains before several high profile outbreaks of E. coli poisoning drove fans away. Since the outbreak was recently declared over, Chipotle has instituted wide-ranging changes that...

February 9, 2016 GMO labeling issues: Voluntary or, if mandatory, state-by-state or federal'

KXLO-KLCM - Campbell is the first major food maker to make a break with the multi-year campaign of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) to defeat state-level GMO labeling initiatives and promote voluntary labeling...

February 9, 2016 Groups push for integrated approach

Agri-View - ROME- Infectious animal-borne disease threats are likely to flare up or emerge in the near future, says Juan Lubroth, chief veterinarian for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. To better...

February 9, 2016 Waste Not, Want Not: Why the Rockefeller Foundation Is So Interested in Food Loss

insidephilanthropy.com - Yet according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the world grows enough food to feed most of these hungry people. So why is food insecurity still an unrelenting and incessant...

February 9, 2016 Chipotle urges workers to stay home if they're sick

Source: Denver Post

Chipotle repeatedly told employees they need to stay home if they feel sick and the restaurant chain kept all its U.S. locations shuttered early Monday as executives went over new food safety procedures.

February 8, 2016 Are Processed Foods Getting a Bad Rap'

US News Health - Raw milk can contain dangerous pathogens that can cause foodborne illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the consumption of unpasteurized milk is 150 times more likely to cause you...

February 8, 2016 USDA's new rules will make 50000 fewer people sick from salmonella annually

Bills Insider - A coalition of consumer groups, the Safe Food Coalition, is commending the new standards while calling on the USDA to take a tougher stance overall on the presence of drug-resistant Salmonella in food. > 1862

February 5, 2016 French law forbids food waste by supermarkets

Source: The Guardian

France has become the first country in the world to ban supermarkets from throwing away or destroying unsold food, forcing them instead to donate it to charities and food banks.

February 5, 2016 18 Times Whole Foods Got Into Big Trouble

MSN - The company agreed to pay an $800,000 settlement. In 2013, the company was sued (along with several other retailers) after a study by the Organic Consumers Association found high levels of a carcinogen called 1.4-Dioxane in...

February 4, 2016 Analysts: Chipotle faces long road to recovery

Source: Nation's Restaurant News

Wall Street analysts warned of a tough road ahead for Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. in reports on Wednesday despite attempts by company executives to focus on plans to entice customers back to restaurants with a “near zero” risk of...

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