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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

January 8, 2014 McDonald’s looks to use sustainable beef by 2016

Source: Restaurant News

McDonald’s Corp. says it will attempt to purchase “verified sustainable” beef for its restaurants by 2016, according to a new “Beef Sustainability” page on its website.

January 3, 2014 China's Latest Food Scandal: Fox-Tainted Donkey Meat

Source: The Attlantic

As if a nasty bribery scandal in Mexico was not enough to deal with, Walmart is now embroiled in a fox-meat scandal in China. Over the holidays, I watched Fantastic Mr. Fox, and now just can’t help but imagine Walmart CEO Mike...

January 2, 2014 Obama's pick for food safety chief surprises consumer advocates

Washington Post - "Consumer advocates who work closely with [the Department of Agriculture] on policy issues have had limited direct experience with Dr. Hagen," said the Consumer Federation of America, which is part of a group...

January 2, 2014 Food recall news: Campbell voluntary recalls Prego sauce due to risk of spoilage

Source: Examiner

The Campbell soup company has issued a voluntary food recall due to risks of spoilage. The spoilage factor was discovered in a routine quality control test. According to an FDA report released on Dec. 31 Prego Traditional...

December 30, 2013 Despite more options, 1% of fast food kids' meals healthy: Study

CBS News - Children who eat fast food may be hard pressed to find a healthy meal, according to a new report from the Yale îRudd Center for Food Policy and Obesityî. The new report, Fast Food FACTS 2013, looks closely...

December 30, 2013 The 10 Biggest Foodborne Illness Outbreaks of 2013

Source: Food Safety News

Editor’s note: 2013 saw dozens of well-publicized foodborne illness outbreaks. While many of them were found to have sickened a handful of individuals, a few stood out as especially wide in scope. Food Safety News has compiled a...

December 24, 2013 Final Report on Audits Conducted on Chinese Poultry Slaughter Plants - Specifically, the report indicates that Chinaâs inspection system lacks a standardized method to assign inspection personnel to slaughter facilities and that, by splitting inspection of the viscera,...

December 22, 2013 Report says Salmonella Outbreaks from Raw Chicken Linked to USDA Weaknesses

Ozarks - According to Pew Charitable Trustsâ report, the U.S. Department of Agricultureâs îFood Safety and Inspection Serviceî is not doing enough to ... The report was released Dec. 19, the same...

December 20, 2013 Should the Government Impose a Sugar Tax to Curb Obesity'

PolicyMic - But this and other research suggests there is something different about sugar,â said Kelly Brownell, director of the îRudd Center for Food Policy and Obesityî at Yale University. The report suggested...

December 20, 2013 FAO reports emerging diseases increasingly sourced from food - The îFood and Agriculture Organization of the United Nationsî released a report on Monday that stated population growth, global food supply companies and expansion of agriculture have changed...

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