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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 10, 2014 WTO fails to agree on definition of private standards for food safety

Manila Bulletin - The sanitary and phytosanitary measures committee of the World Trade Organization (WTO) has failed to agree on a definition for private standards for food safety and animal and plant health and deferred a...

April 10, 2014 Latino and African American Preschoolers Targeted by Fast Food Companies

The Latin Post - Fast Food FACT 2013, issued by the Yale îRudd Center for Food Policy and Obesityî, has released a new report that addresses fast food restaurants, the quality of that food, and the way that the food...

April 9, 2014 The FDA's Outdated Rules Regarding Chemical Additives Might Be Making Us Sick

kcet.org - Monday in Washington, D.C., the îGrocery Manufacturers Associationî -- admittedly not our favorite organization, for somewhat obvious reasons-- held a science forum which included one very important...

April 8, 2014 Are secret, dangerous ingredients in your food'

Washington Post - said Thomas Neltner, a chemical engineer and co-author of the study that was presented Monday at a îGrocery Manufacturers Associationîâs Science Forum at Washington. In a prepared statement,...

April 8, 2014 Restaurants more likely to cause foodborne illnesses than home cooking, CSPI says

Agri Pulse - Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc. WASHINGTON, April 7, 2014 - The îCenter for Science in the Public Interestî says that an analysis of thousands of food poisoning cases over a 10-year period shows...

April 5, 2014 Tyson Food recalling thousands of pounds of chicken nuggets

WLOX 13 - Tyson Foods is recalling about 75,320 pounds of frozen, fully cooked chicken nugget products that may be contaminated with extraneous materials, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's îFood Safety and...

April 5, 2014 Are Cereal Box Mascots Calling your Kids' Study

Science World Report - Yet a recent study conducted by researchers from Cornell University's Food and Brand Lab and the Yale îRudd Center for Food Policy and Obesityî show that these colorful boxes may be more...

April 4, 2014 Climate change will 'lead to battles for food', says head of World Bank

Source: The Guardian

Battles over water and food will erupt within the next five to 10 years as a result of climate change, the president of the World Bank said as he urged those campaigning against global warming to learn the lessons of how...

April 3, 2014 Eyes in the aisles: Why is Cap'n Crunch looking down at my child'

Medical Xpress - To examine the influence of cereal box spokes-characters Cornell Food and Brand Lab Researchers Aner Tal and Brian Wansink, in collaboration with research assistant Aviva Musicus from the Yale îRudd Center...

March 30, 2014 Tyson recalls 33,840 pounds of mechanically-separated chicken

KSDK - KSDK â Tyson Foods Inc. is recalling more than 30,000 pounds of chicken products, claiming they might be contaminated with a Salmonella Heidelberg strain, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's îFood Safety and...

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