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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

November 7, 2014 Environmental, public health groups sue FDA over feed additive

Source: Reuters

A group of environmental and public health groups sued the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday, seeking to set aside the agency's approvals for feed additives containing ractopamine that are used to boost the weight of...

November 7, 2014 Chicken Imports from China a Raw Deal for U.S. Consumers

eNews Park Forest - âIn a post election surprise, USDAâs îFood Safety and Inspection Serviceî (FSIS) announced yesterday that the Peopleâs Republic of China had completed the necessary paperwork to...

November 6, 2014 Berkeley Puts First Soda Tax on the Books

Source: Food Safety News

The city of Berkeley, CA became the first municipality in the country to approve a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages Tuesday.

November 5, 2014 Supermarkets try to block food watchdog's bid to ‘name and shame’ stores selling chicken tainted with deadly bug (UK)

Source: Daily Mail(UK)

The bug involved, campylobacter, is associated with 280,000 food poisoning cases a year and as many as 100 deaths, making it one of the biggest threats to public health

November 4, 2014 The Feds 'Modernize' Food Safety Without Making Food Safer

Source: Reason.com

Can the federal government spend hundreds of millions of dollars on food-safety regulations without making Americans or our food much safer? Sadly, the answer appears to be yes

November 3, 2014 Study: Milk may not be very good for bones or the body

Source: Washington Post

But a new study from researchers in Uppsala University in Sweden suggests that consuming more milk could actually be associated with higher mortality and bone fractures in women and higher mortality in men

November 3, 2014 28,980 Pounds Of Chicken Kiev Recalled For Connection With Salmonella Illness

The Consumerist - The U.S. îDepartmentî of Agriculture announced Aspen Foods ... of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common îbacterialî îfoodborneî...

October 31, 2014 Listeria Found in Raw Milk at New York Dairy

Source: Food Safety News

Consumers in Sullivan County, NY, and surrounding areas are being warned not to consume unpasteurized raw milk from the Richard Dirie Farm due to possible Listeria contamination. The farm is located at 1345 Shandelee Rd.,...

October 31, 2014 109 Country of Origin Labeling Reform Group Members Appeal to Congress

Farm Futures - Members of the Country of Origin Labeling Reform Coalition on Thursday sent a letter to members of the U.S. Congress appealing for action on the îWorld Trade Organizationî's recent ruling on COOL, which...

October 30, 2014 The Shrimp You Buy May Not Be What You Think It Is

Source: Huff Post

Much of the shrimp sold in grocery stores and restaurants across the U.S. isn't exactly what it says on the package or the menu, a new survey claims. Using DNA testing, the marine conservation group Oceana sampled 143 shrimp...

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