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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

May 25, 2012 Majority of Americans Confident in Safety of Food Supply, Survey Finds

Source: Food Safety News

The vast majority of Americans have confidence in the safety of the U.S. food supply, according to a new survey by the International Food Information Council, a food industry communications group. The "2012 Food & Health Survey"...

May 24, 2012 Health survey indicates consumers are confident in food supply

Source: Agri-pulse.com

WASHINGTON - The International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation 2012 Food and Healthy Survey shows that three out of four Americans are confident in the U.S. food supply, which is a significant increase over the past...

May 24, 2012 Ore. company recalls tainted lettuce amidst listeria concern

Source: USA Today

PORTLAND, Ore. – A Portland produce distributor announced it is voluntarily recalling bagged lettuce that could be tainted with listeria. The Pacific Coast Fruit Co. said the lettuce was sold to Fred Meyer stores in the...

May 23, 2012 FDA: Nearly 1000 Pets Sickened by China-Made Dog Treats

Source: Time

The Food and Drug Administration has received hundreds of complaints from owners and vets over certain brands of China-made chicken jerky products.

May 22, 2012 Baby food 'contaminated' with antibiotics and other drugs used to treat animals

Source: Daily Mail

Baby food may contain small amounts of antibiotics and other veterinary drugs used to treat animals. The chemicals are particularly likely to be found in milk and chicken based foods. The amounts of veterinary drugs are tiny, but...

May 21, 2012 Giant Eagle Recalls Bagged Lettuce, Salads

Source: Patch.com

Giant Eagle is pulling Farmers Market bagged salad and lettuce with a "best by" date of May 12-22 from its shelves. The products may have been contaminated by listeria monocytogenes, which can cause serious -- and sometimes fatal...

May 21, 2012 Study Finds That Buying Organic Food Can Make People Act Like Jerks

Source: mediaite.com

A recent study has found a connection between grocery shopping habits and consumer attitudes. You may either find this news shocking, not surprising in the least, or a load of crap, but in any case, last week the journal of...

May 21, 2012 Pet food recall that won't end? Diamond cat food now risky.

Source: Christian Science Monitor

Pet food recall from Diamond Pet Foods has been expanded eight times, triggered an FDA investigation and critique, and now includes cat food. The company's handling of the salmonella crisis may be even worse.

May 18, 2012 Fewer Food Recalls in First Quarter This Year

Source: Food Safety News

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recorded 142 food recalls during the first quarter of 2012, down 19 percent from the previous quarter and down 20 percent from the same period of 2011.

May 18, 2012 Fewer Food Recalls in First Quarter This Year

Source: Food Safety News

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recorded 142 food recalls during the first quarter of 2012, down 19 percent from the previous quarter and down 20 percent from the same period of 2011.

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