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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 6, 2013 Sugary soft drinks linked to raised risk of diabetes

Celebrities With Diseases - âOne soft drink a day increases Type 2 diabetes risk by a fifth,â The Independent warns, reporting on a European study that has examined the relationship between type 2 diabetes and sugary...

May 6, 2013 The Changing World of Food Traceability

Source: Food Safety News

You, the consumer, are at the end of a long line of stops food makes before reaching your plate. Being able to trace this food back to its origins can be crucial to government and industry during a food-related recall or...

May 6, 2013 China media: Fake food scandals

Source: BBC News

Media voice despair over corruption and threats to public health in the wake of fake and toxic food scandals, mass protests against polluting plants, and faulty dictionaries.

May 5, 2013 If food is recalled, find out details

Madison Press - First, find out why the product is being recalled. If itâs due to an undeclared food allergen, for example, and no one in your household suffers from that allergy, you donât have to worry about ......

May 4, 2013 Why Is Selling Salmonella-Tainted Chicken Still Legal'

Care2 (blog) - When researchers last year at the Emerging Pathogens Institute ranked foodborne pathogens to figure out which was the worst, Salmonella was number one on their list. It was ranked the food poisoning bacteria with...

May 4, 2013 Trader Joe's targeted for meat with antibiotics, candy with lead

Chicago Tribune - Quirky grocery chain Trader Joeâs is dealing this week with some concern over its products, including a public statement from a major advocacy group criticizing the presence of antibiotics in meat and a...

May 2, 2013 California lawmakers should require webcams in meatpacking plants and slaughterhouses

News & Review - Whether one eats animals or not, Jonathan Safran Foerâs book Eating Animals is a must-read for everyone. SN&R, 10.20.11. About 90 percent of Americans eat meat, but most of us know next to nothing...

May 1, 2013 Investigation into health concerns of ground turkey

Abc Local Web - Ground turkey is a popular alternative to ground beef, but there are health concerns beyond fat and calories you need to be aware of. Consumer Reports has partnered exclusively with 7 On Your Side for a new...

May 1, 2013 Wrigley introduces gum with caffeine, critics say it's disturbing, FDA investigates

Star-Democrat - WASHINGTON (AP) - Looking for a new way to get that jolt of caffeine energy' Food companies are betting snacks like potato chips, jelly beans and gum with a caffeinated kick could be just the answer. The Food and...

April 30, 2013 A Taxing Decision for Soda Makers

The Motley Fool - It's a mark of how far the U.S. has fallen that it ranks 10th -- 10th!-- on the list of countries with the most economic freedom, surpassed by the likes of Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, and even Denmark....

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