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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

June 4, 2014 Food Handlers Cause Most Food-Poisoning Cases

Source: WebMD

Norovirus, the so-called "cruise ship virus," is more often caused by infected restaurant workers than outbreaks on the high seas, U.S. health officials said Tuesday. Just 1 percent of more than 1,000 food-borne outbreaks...

June 3, 2014 Food safety in the United States: Research roundup - During 2013, salmonella was responsible for more cases of illness, hospitalizations, and deaths compared to any other îfoodborneî pathogen. Campylobacter, a class of îbacteriaî...

June 2, 2014 Officials: 1.8M pounds of ground beef recalled

Berkshire Eagle - coli. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's îFood Safety and Inspection Serviceî announced Monday that affected Wolverine Packing Co. products were produced between March 31 and April 18. They were...

May 31, 2014 5 Reasons You Should Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup at All Costs - It is extracted from corn stalks through a process so secret that Archer Daniels Midland and Carghill would not allow the investigative journalist îMichael Pollanî to observe it for his book The...

May 30, 2014 Is a School Breakfast of Multi-Grain Lucky Charms Better Than No Breakfast at All'

The Huffington Post - In the new documentary Fed Up, author and journalist îMichael Pollanî reminds us that: "Junk is still junk, even when it's less junky." If you want to see what Pollan is talking about, soon all...

May 30, 2014 U.S. Schools Cut ‘Pink Slime’ Purchases More Than 94%

Source: Bloomberg

U.S. schools cut their use of lean, finely textured beef by more than 94 percent in the most recent fiscal year, resisting meat-industry efforts to win acceptance of the product that food activists have dubbed “pink slime.”

May 29, 2014 Tainted beef may be in stores in 15 states - Check your ground beef before you grill this Memorial Day weekend. The USDA's îFood Safety and Inspection Serviceî says stores in at least 15 states may have received beef contaminated with E. coli O157:H7....

May 29, 2014 Consumer group sues USDA over drug-resistant salmonella in meat

Source: Reuters

A consumer group on Wednesday accused the U.S. Department of Agriculture of putting the public's health at risk by allowing meat with antibiotic-resistant strains of salmonella to be sold to consumers, according to a lawsuit...

May 28, 2014 Food, health and sustainability: we become what we eat, and so does Earth

Source: The Guardian

The global food system is dysfunctional both from a health and sustainability perspective. It is time that science, policy and business address these issues collectively. On 30 April, a report from the World Health Organisation...

May 28, 2014 China’s Food Safety Problems Go Deeper Than Pet Treats - text/video

Source: Time

Pet food retailers in the U.S. are pulling Chinese-made dog and cat treats from their shelves out of contamination fear. PETCO became the first national pet food store to halt the sale of Chinese-made treats this week, due to...

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