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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

March 30, 2015 12 Recalled Foods Not to Eat This Week

Source: Time

Every week lots of foods are pulled from grocery shelves for contamination. There were over a dozen recalls just this week, but since not every recall reported by the Food and Drug Administration makes headlines, we’ve listed...

March 27, 2015 Testifying about Sustainability and the American Diet

Source: Union of Concerned Scientists

The day before yesterday, together with my UCS colleagues Lindsey Haynes-Maslow and Deborah Bailin, I went to the National Institutes of Health to testify on the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory...

March 27, 2015 Is California wine safe to drink'

KWCH 12 - Without providing specific data, the plaintiffs said their analysis found inorganic arsenic "far in excess" of what's allowed in drinking îwaterî based on the îEPAî's standard for arsenic in...

March 27, 2015 Diet Coke Loses Position as No. 2 Soda in U.S. to Pepsi-Cola

Source: Wall Street Journal

Pepsi-Cola supplanted Diet Coke as the No. 2 soda brand in the U.S. by volume in 2014 as Americans continued to flee diet soft drinks, according to industry data published Thursday.

March 25, 2015 3 Organic Food Companies Recall Products Over Listeria Fears

Source: ABC News

Three organic food companies that use spinach in their food have recalled hundreds of thousands of items over listeria concerns. Organic food company Amy's Kitchen has voluntarily recalled about 74,000 cases of frozen and...

March 24, 2015 Antibiotics and the Meat You Eat

Times Union - The legislation was supported by the îUnion of Concerned Scientistsî, Pew Environment Group, and the American Medical Association, among other groups, but opposed by farm organizations like the National...

March 23, 2015 The Wine Group: All Our Wines are Safe for Consumption

Patch - The statement further reads: âThe basis of the complaint is that certain wines contain more than 10 parts per billion (ppb) of arsenic, which is the limit established by the U.S. Environmental Protection...

March 20, 2015 The Importance of Food Traceability

Food Safety News - For example, according to the îGrocery Manufacturers Associationî, the financial impact of a recall in the U.S. is quite significant: 52 percent of all recalls cost more than $10 million and 23...

March 20, 2015 "Very high levels of arsenic" in top-selling wines

WTSP - He tested more than 1,300 bottles of wine. Almost a quarter of them had levels higher than the îEPAî's maximum allowable amount of arsenic in drinking îwaterî: 10 parts per billion. No one can say...

March 19, 2015 Kraft recalls 242K cases of Mac & Cheese for metal pieces.

Source: CS Monitor

Kraft's beloved, blue-boxed pantry staple has a lot of synthetic ingredients, sure. But shards of steel shouldn't be among them. The food processing giant is recalling 242,000 of its Macaroni & Cheese dinners that may contain...

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