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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 21, 2015 Blue Bell Recalls All Products After Listeria Outbreak

Source: NY Times

Blue Bell Creameries, which distributes frozen desserts to about half of the United States, said that it was voluntarily recalling all of its products after the bacteria listeria was found in two cartons of ice cream.

April 21, 2015 How Food Waste Costs Our Cities Millions

Sustainable Cities Collective - Graphic by îWorld Resources Instituteî. Given the staggering effect that food production has on the environment, reducing food waste and easing the growing need for food production can...

April 16, 2015 Beech-Nut baby food recall: Glass found in jar prompts nationwide warning

Source: Syracuse.com

Upstate New York baby food manufacturer Beech-Nut Nutrition has issued a voluntary recall of 1,920 pounds of baby food after a consumer was injured by a small piece of glass in one of its products.

April 16, 2015 Over-consumption, climate change threaten food security, water supply: UNFAO

Source: Reuters

LONDON – There will be enough water to produce food for 10 billion people in 2050, but over-consumption and the impact of climate change threaten food security and water supplies in many regions, the U.N. Food and Agriculture...

April 13, 2015 Is Listeria Actually On The Rise Or Does It Just Seem That Way?

Source: Forbes

Last week, Sabra recalled 30,000 cases of its Classic Hummus for possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination, and Blue Bell recalled more varieties of its ice cream products. Before that, it was spinach, sprouts, and caramel...

April 7, 2015 World Health Day: How safe is your food'

KhaleejTimes - Unsafe food containing harmful îbacteriaî, viruses ... a broader ongoing analysis of the global burden of îfood-borneî îdiseasesî. The full results of this research, being...

April 7, 2015 Fateful Harvest: A Reuters Special Report

Source: Reuters

The farmers of Brazil have become the world’s top exporters of sugar, orange juice, coffee, beef, poultry and soybeans. They’ve also earned a more dubious distinction: In 2012, Brazil passed the United States as the largest buyer...

April 6, 2015 Chips or meat? Rice or lollies? The foods that are safe to eat under the five-second rule... or is it all just a cooked-up claim?

Source: Daily Mail

More than 4.1 million cases of food poisoning are diagnosed in Australia every year, with 31,920 hospitalisations and 82 deaths. However, the number is coming down, which experts credited to an increased basic understanding of...

April 6, 2015 Trade dispute may eliminate 'country of origin' labels from beef

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Next month, the îWorld Trade Organizationî is expected to issue a final ruling in the dispute, which could have broad implications for Wisconsin's agriculture industry. In a nutshell,...

April 6, 2015 CDC says 77% of packaged grocery store foods contain high level of Sodium

Source: World of Tech Today

A recent study conducted by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) holds packaged and processed foods as the main culprits behind the Americans’ consuming salt in excess of the daily recommended allowance....

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