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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

May 18, 2015 One in three Brits at risk of deadly food poisoning from 'killer chickens'

Source: Mirror (UK)

A third of Brits are in danger of falling victim to a killer food poisoning bug, a leading watchdog has warned. According to a study by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), a third of the population is at risk of becoming ill because...

May 14, 2015 A Sharp Spike in Honeybee Deaths Deepens a Worrisome Trend

Source: NY Times

A prolonged and mysterious die-off of the nation’s honeybees, a trend worrisome both to beekeepers and to farmers who depend on the insects to pollinate their crops, apparently worsened last year.

May 8, 2015 Congress should prioritize food safety modernization funding

Source: The Hill

In 2011, Congress passed and President Obama signed into law the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Heralded as “the most sweeping reform of our food safety laws in more than 70 years” and supported by industry, consumer...

May 8, 2015 EPA regulator set to release key herbicide report, lauds biopesticides

Source: Reuters

WASHINGTON – The Environmental Protection Agency has wrapped up its review of the world’s most widely used herbicide and plans to release a much-anticipated preliminary risk assessment no later than July, the regulator’s chief...

May 7, 2015 USDA Report Shows Little Economic Benefit to COOL

thecattlesite.com - The rule would require meat to be labelled with information on where the livestock was born, raised and slaughtered, and is currently awaiting a final decision by the îWorld Trade Organizationî...

May 6, 2015 Will customers pay for a more natural Panera?

Source: MarketWatch

Panera Bread Co. PNRA, -0.10% announced Tuesday it would remove 150 artificial ingredients from its menu items, becoming the most recent example in a growing trend of catering to consumers’ desires for healthier foods — a trend...

May 6, 2015 Coffee crisis brewing as planet heats up

SciDev.Net - The study, published in the journal PLOS One (14 April), compiled data from more than 62,000 points worldwide where Arabica coffee beans are grown and analysed climatic predictions by the îIntergovernmental...

May 5, 2015 A Flu Epidemic That Threatens Birds, Not Humans

Source: NY Times

Although much of the country has barely noticed, avian influenza — a version of the virus that generated “Killer Bird Flu!” headlines a decade ago — is now sweeping the Midwest.

May 3, 2015 Avian influenza concerns poultry producers throughout the nation

KPC News - HPAI spreads rapidly and has a high death rate in birds. First, the îCenter for Disease Controlî and the U.S. Department of Agriculture report that the current strain, the H5N2 virus, is highly unlikely to...

May 1, 2015 Is Our Food Safety Process Broken?

Source: Frontline

Each year in the United States, a staggering 48 million people become sick with a foodborne illness. Roughly 128,000 end up in the hospital, and 3,000 die.

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