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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

April 24, 2017 Golf Balls In Hash Browns Prompt Food Recall

Source: Huffington Post

McCain Foods USA is enacting a voluntary recall of two varieties of its hash browns because the potatoes may contain pieces of golf balls.

April 21, 2017 Diet sodas may be tied to stroke, dementia risk

Source: CNN

Gulping down an artificially sweetened beverage not only may be associated with health risks for your body, but also possibly your brain, a new study suggests.

April 18, 2017 More flour brands added to Robin Hood national flour recall

Source: CBC

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has added more brands of flour and flour products to the national recall it issued April 4 over fears of E. coli contamination.

April 13, 2017 Hospitalizations drop where laws restrict trans fats

Source: Reuters

People were less likely to go to the hospital with heart attacks or strokes after several counties in New York State restricted the use of trans fats, according to a new study.

April 13, 2017 Women's Institute urges supermarkets to do more to cut food waste

Source: The Guardian

First WI report on food waste finds confusion persists over ‘best before’ and ‘sell by’ dates, with supermarkets potentially contributing to the problem

April 12, 2017 Pesticide residues in food: risk to consumers remains low

Source: European Food Safety Authority

Food consumed in the European Union continues to be largely free of pesticide residues or to contain residues that fall within legal limits, new figures show. The latest monitoring report published by EFSA reveals that more than...

April 11, 2017 Progress in Sustainable Agriculture Must be Supported

Source: UC Food Observer

While federal support for sustainable agriculture is significantly at risk, public enthusiasm is at an all-time high. Now is the time for farmers, researchers and experts in the field to build a rallying cry for maintaining and...

April 10, 2017 Consumers claim dead bat found in recalled Fresh Express salad mix

Source: Food Safety News

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention late Saturday said it had received a dead bat from a consumer who claimed it was found in a packaged salad mix, sparking an investigation that has prompted the Atlanta-based...

April 6, 2017 EU clears ChemChina's $43 billion takeover of Syngenta with conditions

Source: Reuters

ChemChina [CNNCC.UL] won conditional EU antitrust approval on Wednesday for its $43 billion bid for Swiss pesticides and seeds group Syngenta (SYNN.S), a deal that could help China boost its domestic agricultural output.

April 3, 2017 What six things a Food Safety Lawyer does not eat

Source: Food Poison Journal

Unpasteurized milk, sometimes called “raw” milk, can be contaminated with bacteria, viruses and parasites.

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