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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

August 4, 2016 Bottled Water to Outsell Soda for First Time This Year

Source: Bloomberg

The biggest U.S. bottled-water companies -- Nestle Waters, Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc. and Dr Pepper Snapple Group -- say Americans have switched from carbonated beverages because their products are calorie-free and as portable...

August 2, 2016 Bayer says will halt future U.S. sales of insecticide

Source: Reuters

The agricultural unit of German chemicals company Bayer AG will halt future U.S. sales of an insecticide that can be used on more than 200 crops after losing a fight with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the company said...

August 2, 2016 Happier Meal? McDonald's nixing some unpalatable ingredients

Source: Business Insider

McDonald's, which is trying to shake its image for serving processed junk food, said Monday it's eliminating some unpalatable ingredients from its most popular menu items.

August 2, 2016 New GMO labeling law fails to meet activists' standards

us.blastingnews.com - The Organic Consumers Association, another non-profit, said the law "amounts to no labeling" and robs states of the right to pass their own laws which mandate GMO labels. The OCA dubbed the bill the DARK Act...

August 2, 2016 CDC Spending $67 Million to Fight Antibiotic Resistance

Food Poisoning Bulletin - Dr. Ruth Lynfield, Minnesota state epidemiologist and medical director at the Minnesota Department of ... and protect patients from infections in healthcare facilities and strengthen state's abilities to...

August 1, 2016 President Obama Signed This GMO Labeling Bill

Source: Fortune

On Friday President Obama signed bill S. 764 that puts into place a federal standard for foods that have been made with genetically modified organisms, ABC News reports. This move comes just about two weeks after Congress passed...

August 1, 2016 Schumer: FDA Too Slow To Issue Recalls For Tainted Food Products - text/video

Source: CBC TV NY

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Sunday that federal regulators are too slow getting bad food off the shelves.

July 29, 2016 FDA cites corporate confidentiality laws in secret sugar recall

Source: Food Safety News

Federal officials are working with a producer to recall an undisclosed amount of sugar because of contamination with bits of metal, but they say they can’t reveal either the sugar company or the food producers that received the...

July 22, 2016 Chipotle Results Miss Analysts’ Estimates as Crisis Drags On

Source: Bloomberg

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. posted second-quarter profit and sales that missed analysts’ estimates, a sign the burrito chain is still reeling from a food-safety crisis that drove away customers and tarnished its reputation.

July 20, 2016 GMO Labels: Win, Lose or Draw?

Source: Food Safety Magazine

A large number of Americans claim to want genetically modified organism (GMO) labeling on the food they buy. In the face of Congress’ years-long inability to put together any type of GMO legislation, states began taking matters...

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