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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

October 28, 2011 Food companies petitioned to ban new Monsanto GMO corn

Source: Reuters

Opponents of Monsanto's new genetically modified sweet corn are petitioning national food retailers and processors to ban the biotech corn, which is not labeled as being genetically altered from conventional corn. A coalition of...

October 28, 2011 Meat, Poultry Pie Products Recalled In Colorado, 4 Other States

Source: The Denver Channel

The US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service said Thursday some products from Original Fried Pies, Inc. contain a preservative called sodium benzoate that doesn't appear on package ...

October 27, 2011 Organic is no guarantee that food is safe

Source: News Sentinel

"Labels like organic or local don't translate into necessarily safer products," says Caroline Smith DeWaal of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "They are capturing different values but ...

October 27, 2011 Report: Industry decides US food ingredient safety

Source: AP

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Thousands of ingredients that go into food have been classified as safe by private industry alone, without any U.S. government oversight, according to a new report published Wednesday. Since the early 1960's,...

October 26, 2011 Colorado cantaloupe listeria outbreak death toll climbs to 28

Source: Denver Post

Twenty-eight people have now died nationwide from the Colorado cantaloupe listeria outbreak, according to an update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The total, moved up from 25 deaths last week, comes amid 133...

October 26, 2011 Local, organic foods not always safer

Source: USA Today

WASHINGTON – Shoppers nervous about foodborne illnesses may turn to foods produced at smaller farms or labeled "local," "organic" or "natural" in the hopes that such products are safer. But a small outbreak of salmonella in...

October 25, 2011 Recall Issued On Nike All-American Sandwiches

Source: WHNT.com

MONTGOMERY, AL— The Department of Agriculture and Industries Food Safety inspectors are conducting effectiveness checks today on a recall announced by Landshire of St. Louis, Missouri. Landshire is initiating a voluntary recall...

October 24, 2011 BPA in pregnant women might affect kids' behavior

Source: AJC.com

CHICAGO — Exposure to BPA before birth could affect girls' behavior at age 3, according to the latest study on potential health effects of the widespread chemical. Preschool-aged girls whose mothers had relatively high urine...

October 21, 2011 Killer cantaloupe raises awareness about the need for food safety

Source: Reporter Herald

Following this summer's listeriosis outbreak traced to cantaloupe grown at Rocky Ford's Jensen Farms, awareness has been raised about the safety of food we bring home from the market each day. Since the Food and Drug...

October 20, 2011 Jensen Farms Packing Operation Fatally Flawed

Source: Food Safety News

The farm at the center of the nation's deadly Listeria outbreak did not follow established food safety practices in handling its fresh cantaloupes, federal officials said Wednesday. In releasing the investigation report on Jensen...

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