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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
February 9, 2015 Could a Single Food-Safety Agency be the Answer?Source: Food Safety News
This week, with little fanfare, the Obama administration released a proposed 2016 budget that would dramatically remake FDA and USDA. The plan would strip each agency of its extensive food-safety oversight responsibilities and...
February 6, 2015 Reducing pathogens in chicken, other poultry products is goal of proposed govt standards
brandonsun.com - coli, which can cause severe illness or death. Caroline Smith DeWaal of the îCenter for Science in the Public Interestî said the proposed standards would be better if they were enforced. "USDA can't...
February 3, 2015 Mercury levels rising in Pacific yellowfin tuna, study saysSource: LA Times
Mercury levels in yellowfin tuna caught in the Pacific Ocean have been rising at a 3.8% annual rate since 1998, according to a new study..
Source: Star Tribune
But it goes fast when your budget stretches from aging highways to medical care to space travel and more.Here's an agency-by-agency look at how President Barack Obama would spend Americans' money in the 2016 budget year beginning...
January 30, 2015 This is just a horrifying paragraph about food safety in AmericaSource: Vox
Everyone should go read his piece, but the anecdote below stands out. Back in 2013, US officials had good reason to believe that Foster Farms, a company in California, was shipping tainted chicken and causing a massive...
January 30, 2015 How environmentally friendly is fast food? New report has answers: Oregon environment roundupSource: Oregon Live
The nonprofits As You Sow and Natural Resources Defense Council have examined more than 40 U.S. companies’ practices when it comes to packaging recyclability, compostability, and other indicators. Their report, which will be...
Alter Net - Like îMichael Pollanî, I agree that people should aim to âEat food, not too much, mostly plants,â because this is ideal for human and habitat health. But letâs get real. We live in a...
January 29, 2015 U.S. lawmakers propose bill to create single food safety agencySource: Reuters
U.S. lawmakers proposed a bill on Wednesday that would create a single food safety agency by bringing together the oversight functions of the Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture and other agencies.
January 27, 2015 Knowing where your food comes from: The COOL facts
Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier - U.S. courts, however, have found COOL legal. U.S. court decisions carry no weight with the îWorld Trade Organizationî, the final arbiter on global trade disputes. It has repeatedly ruled...
January 22, 2015 USDA Proposes Tougher Food Safety Standards for Chicken and TurkeySource: USDA
It’s no secret that Americans eat a lot of chicken and turkey. In fact, USDA estimates that a single American will eat 102 pounds of poultry in 2015. It is USDA’s job to ensure the meat and poultry products we enjoy are also safe...
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