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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

December 28, 2016 Sustainability in the global food system, according to business intel

Source: Austin Statesman

The resulting report, Food Sustainability Index, compared the countries’ food systems along three broad pillars: agriculture practices, wasted food, and nutritional outcomes.

December 28, 2016 China uncovers 500,000 food safety violations in nine months

Source: Fox

China, rocked in recent years by a series of food safety scandals, uncovered as many as half a million illegal food safety violations in the first three quarters of the year, an official said.

December 27, 2016 Top food safety stories of 2016 include criminal investigations

Source: Food Safety News

The editors of Food Safety News have complied this list of major news from 2016. While the year will no doubt be best remember for its presidential election, there were other milestones worth remembering as we prepare to turn the...

December 27, 2016 Gloomy start to year of rooster as bird flu hits South Korea

Source: US News

Egg prices are soaring and new year's festivals are being canceled as South Korea fights its worst bird flu outbreak in a decade.

December 27, 2016 The Coming Water Crisis

Source: The Epoch Times

Fresh, life-sustaining water is draining away. It’s becoming an increasingly scarce resource across the globe through overuse and pollution. As these issues become more acute, tensions that have already begun will escalate, and...

December 14, 2016 ConAgra gets largest fine ever in food safety case for poisoned Georgia peanut butter

Source: Atlanta Business Journal

A subsidiary of ConAgra Foods Inc. (NYSE: CAG) on Tuesday pleaded guilty to shipping contaminated peanut butter linked to a 2006-2007 nationwide outbreak of salmonella poisoning, the Department of Justice announced

December 13, 2016 Chipotle’s High-Paid Co-CEO Out In Attempt To Recover From Food Safety Crisis

Source: Huff Post

Now, as the food giant struggles to recover its sales, one of the Denver-based burrito chain’s two CEOs ? who is among the highest-paid executives in the food industry ? is out.

December 7, 2016 Chipotle stock down after CEO says customer service weak

Source: Tulsa World

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., the burrito chain struck by a food-safety crisis last year, suffered its worst stock decline in six weeks after warning that deteriorating customer service is hampering comeback efforts.

December 7, 2016 Cancer warning labels sought for processed meat and poultry

Source: Food Sajety News

A nine-page petition filed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest asks the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service to begin requiring colorectal cancer warning labels on certain meat and...

December 6, 2016 Rare Superbug Gene Discovered on U.S. Pig Farm

Source: NBC News

Researchers have found a rare and frightening superbug gene on a U.S. pig farm and say their discovery suggests raw meat could carry the dangerous germs into the human population.

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