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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

January 26, 2016 Risky pesticides left on market too long, environment watchdog says

Source: CBC

The federal Pest Management Regulatory Agency is taking years to remove confirmed pesticide risks from the marketplace while failing to evaluate many other products, according to a new audit.

January 21, 2016 New Dietary Guidelines OKs Lean Meat, But Cuts Added Sugar

wingatewire.com - Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. The new guidelines say Americans should consume no more than 10 teaspoons daily. The guidelines also say you...

January 20, 2016 A Lot of Food Is Contaminated with Poop—but How Hazardous to Your Health Is It?

While the thought of stuffing your face with foods that are laced with poop bacteria is enough to make anyone gag, the odds of it happening are extremely low. There are uber-strict guidelines in place for the food industry called...

January 20, 2016 Why we’ve been hugely underestimating the overfishing of the oceans

Source: Washington Post

The state of the world’s fish stocks may be in worse shape than official reports indicate, according to new data — a possibility with worrying consequences for both international food security and marine ecosystems

January 19, 2016 Extreme weather lowers global crop yield

EarthSky - A study published in the journal Nature on January 7, 2016, provides evidence that historic trends of extreme weather lowers crop production at a global scale.

January 19, 2016 Sustainability runs ‘full circle’

Source: The Packer

For fresh produce companies and the businesses who work with them, questions of sustainability don’t end after energy or water consumption have been cut back. It’s an endless quest that brings all aspects of an operation under...

January 15, 2016 Chipotle will close Feb. 8 for company wide meeting on food safety

Source: Oregon Live

Following successive food poisoning outbreaks last year, Chipotle is closing its stores for a few hours next month to talk about food safety.

January 15, 2016 Should big food follow Campbell Soup's GMO labeling lead'

Investment Underground - A December Mellman Group poll commissioned by Consumers Union and a coalition of consumer and environmental groups found that nine in 10 Americans support mandatory labeling of products with genetically...

January 15, 2016 The US just took a big step toward making your fish sustainable

techinsider.io - A World Resources Institute report predicted that aquaculture production will have to double globally by 2050 in order to feed the 9 billion people on the planet by then. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric...

January 14, 2016 USDA says pesticide levels in produce, other foods not a threat

Source: Food Safety News

The report again confirms that pesticide residues are not a food safety concern for the United States. The PDP report on data from samples collected in 2014 found our food is safe, with pesticide residue levels low enough to...

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