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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 13, 2014 Beef recall over low mad cow risk includes a Kansas City restaurant

Source: Kansas City Star

A Missouri slaughterhouse is recalling more than 4,000 pounds of beef distributed to a grocery store chain and two restaurants — including one in Kansas City — because the meat could be tainted with mad cow disease. Read more...

June 12, 2014 FDA Backs Away from Statement Banning Use of Wood Boards for Cheese Making - Or, Does It'

CNS News - So, what happened' Last Friday, Monica Metz, the branch chief for the FDA's îCenter for Food Safety and Applied Nutritionî's Dairy and Egg Branch informed the New York Department of Agriculture &...

June 11, 2014 USDA sued over drug-resistant Salmonella contamination in meat

Natural News - "Vilsack has a glowing reputation as being a schill for agribusiness biotech giants like Monsanto," explains the îOrganic Consumers Associationî (OCA), citing Vilsack's extensive involvement in...

June 11, 2014 Why assume conspiracy when stupidity works' Keep your government hands off my cheese

Barfblog - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has, apparently, started to enforce a rule after the FDAâs îCenter for Food Safety and Applied Nutritionî issued citations to several New York State cheesemakers...

June 11, 2014 FDA oversight on food labels needs improvement

The Center for Public Integrity - The Government Accountability Office says that consumers struggle to distinguish between different types of claims on food labels and recommends that companies be required to provide supporting...

June 11, 2014 Food fight: Poll reports few believe school lunches should be federally regulated

Source: Deseret News

A new Rasmussen poll finds that just 25 percent of Americans believe the federal government should set school lunch nutrition standards; 51 percent think those decisions should be made locally, while 15 percent prefer to see...

June 10, 2014 Navigating the nexus of food, energy, water and the environment

Source: The Guardian

The UK government's passion for fracking was again on display in last week's Queen's Speech, with proposed changes in the trespass law to allow shale gas firms to drill under people's homes without permission. Ministers continue...

June 9, 2014 Tyson Said to Win Hillshire Bidding, Beating Pilgrim’s Pride

Source: Bloomberg

Tyson Foods Inc. (TSN), the largest U.S. meat company, agreed to buy Hillshire Brands Co. (HSH) after outbidding Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. (PPC) to gain control of the maker of Jimmy Dean sausages and Ball Park hot dogs, two people...

June 9, 2014 Gout treatment halts spread of citrus greening disease, Florida scientists say

Source: Reuters

A chemical used to treat gout in humans has been found to halt the spread of the fatal citrus greening disease that is devastating Florida's $9 billion citrus industry, according to scientists. “We’re really hopeful,” University...

June 6, 2014 United States Records Fourth Death From Mad Cow Disease

Source: Science World Report

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded the fourth death in the United States from mad cow disease following an autopsy from the Texas man who died in May. The disease has killed 177 people in the UK since 1996.

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