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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.


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 2, 2015 Critics say USDA too close to food industry it regulates

Capital Press - Unions that represent inspectors say this isnât currently the policy. Inconvenient relocations are used by the USDAâs îFood Safety and Inspection Serviceî to punish slaughterhouse...

December 31, 2014 Canada warns U.S. that time to fix U.S. food labelling law running out

The Star - Gerry Ritz said if Washington doesnât change its country of origin labelling laws to comply with îWorld Trade Organizationî rulings in the coming months, Canada will apply as early as the summer to...

December 30, 2014 Wheat eases on ample global supplies, corn falls for second day

Source: Reuters

Chicago wheat fell on Tuesday, with plentiful global supplies giving stiff competition to U.S. exporters, while corn slid for a second day as a stronger dollar weighed on commodities.

December 29, 2014 The Top 10 Food-Safety News Stories of 2014

Source: Food Safety News

The top 10 food-safety news stories for 2014, as chosen for the sixth consecutive year by the editors of Food Safety News, were announced today. According to the Internet news site, here are this year’s most important food-safety...

December 23, 2014 Hershey exploring removal of corn syrup

WNDU - The îCenter for Science in the Public Interestî, which advocates for food safety, has also said that there's no evidence that the sweetener is any worse nutritionally than sugar. > 1862

December 19, 2014 GAO: Federal Food-Safety Oversight Needs Better Coordination

Source: Food Safety News

The federal government could be doing more to achieve the goals of the U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and other food-safety efforts, according to a 46-page report published Thursday by the U.S. Government...

December 19, 2014 Climate change could cut 18 percent of world food production by 2050

Source: PBS

Farmers are already suffering from droughts worsened by global climate change. A study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters found that by 2050, global climate change could cut world food production by 18...

December 19, 2014 FDA Issues 2014 Assessment of BPA

Benzinga - FDA's îCenter for Food Safety and Applied Nutritionî (CFSAN) released its 2014 hazard assessment of BPA via the Agency's website following completion of a formal internal Agency review of the most current...

December 19, 2014 U.S. Urged to Heed Warnings of Retaliation if M-COOL is Not Changed

Farm Scape - In October the îWorld Trade Organizationî compliance panel determined changes to U.S. Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling in May 2013 failed to bring the law into compliance with U.S. international...

December 15, 2014 USDA announces new performance standards for Salmonella, Campylobacter

High Plains Journal - USDA's îFood Safety and Inspection Serviceî also released a compliance guide to help the poultry industry address Salmonella and Campylobacter and a compliance guide on known practices for...

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