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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 27, 2014 Objection to USDA Plan Allowing Poultry Producer Self-Inspection Spreads to Congress

AllGov - Food & Water Watch, a consumer organization ... in his 2015 proposed budget. Food Safety Inspectors Object to Allowing Poultry Companies to do Their Own Inspections (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff,...

March 26, 2014 Breakfast sticker shock: Prices of bacon, coffee, orange juice surging

Contra Costa Times - NEW YORK ... orange juice edged up in February to $2.43 from $2.41 in January, according to government data. A series of problems are driving the increases. Florida's orange crop is forecast to be the worst...

March 26, 2014 Concern about how food is marketed to children

News4Jax - "These games are accessible anytime and anywhere," said Dr. Jennifer Harris with the Yale îRudd Center for Food Policy and Obesityî. Harris' newest research shows advergames can be an effective sales pitch....

March 26, 2014 California Scientists Track Deadly Food Contaminations

NBC 4 Southern California - From salmonella-tainted chicken, to salads contaminated with listeria, 48 million Americans get sick every year from îfoodborneî illnesses. That's one in every six Americans. State and...

March 25, 2014 Sausage Recalled

Cleveland News - Fox 8 - Packaged meat company Smithfield Packing Company is recalling some 38,000 pounds of pork sausage because it may contain small pieces of plastic, likely from gloves, the U.S. îFood Safety and...

March 25, 2014 Food sold through Target, Whole Foods, Costco recalled

Source: USA Today

A Minnesota company is recalling some of its peanut butter, cheese, salsa and spreads that are distributed nationwide after authorities discovered some samples of the products contained listeria. The Minnesota Department of...

March 24, 2014 Members of Congress Ask USDA to Delay Salmonella Plan

Food Poisoning Bulletin - Several members of Congress sent a letter this month to the USDA, asking for the delay in the Salmonella Action Plan that îFood Safety and Inspection Serviceî (FSIS) is going to implement....

March 21, 2014 Report: ‘ByCatch’ Blamed for Nine Dirty Ocean Fisheries Off U.S. Shores

Source: Food Safety News

An international conservation organization working to protect the world’s oceans is out with a report naming the nine dirtiest U.S. fisheries. The report says the equivalent of 1 billion seafood meals per year are being thrown...

March 21, 2014 Young mothers prove powerful force in food safety debate

Source: Producer.com

In our battle to mitigate misinformation about agriculture and food production, we need to pay attention to an important new demographic: the “mommy bloggers” and their readers. More than four million young, educated, chatty,...

March 20, 2014 Leaked IPCC report links climate change to global food scare

Science Recorder - The new IPCC report intends to highlight the social effects of climate change, with the draft suggesting a decline ... which can potentially increase malnourishment among the population, with children being...

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