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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

April 6, 2012 Judge tosses Happy Meal lawsuit against McDonald's

Source: Chicago Tribune

SAN FRANCISCO - A San Francisco judge on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit against McDonald's over the restaurant chain's marketing of its signature Happy Meals, according to court documents.

April 6, 2012 Pesticide linked to worrying sharp global decline in honey bee colonies

Source: Daily Mail

A widely used pesticide has been linked to a worrying sharp global decline in honey bee colonies, according to a study. Over the course of just 23 weeks, 94 per cent of the bees in hives exposed to the chemicals died, claim...

April 5, 2012 Food Risk Rises as Import Reliance Makes U.S. Safety Harder

Source: Bloomberg

Imported food and drugs in the U.S. have tripled in the past decade, making it tougher on regulators to police the safety of products that Americans consume, the Institute of Medicine said.

April 5, 2012 Ammonia used in many foods, not just "pink slime"

Source: Reuters

Surprise rippled across America last month as a new wave of consumers discovered that hamburgers often contained ammonia-treated beef, or what critics dub "pink slime".

April 5, 2012 The Greatest Health Risk to Children? No, It’s Not Drugs

Source: NPR

People polled cited unhealthy eating habits and sedentary lifestyle as greatest threat to children's health. Nearly half of people surveyed in a poll released today say an unhealthy diet combined with lack of physical activity...

April 4, 2012 The 10 Deadliest Outbreaks in U.S. History -- Revisited

Source: Food Safety News

The list of the 10 most deadly outbreaks of food- and waterborne illness in U.S. history, previously published by Food Safety News, has been revised for a presentation in Sacramento to the California Environmental Health...

April 3, 2012 Chicken sausage recalled; may contain pieces of plastic

Source: Mobile Press-Register

Eddy Packing Co., Inc., is recalling approximately 26,136 pounds of chicken apple sausage products that may contain foreign materials, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection ...

April 3, 2012 Sugar Is Not Poison, But We're Getting Too Much of It

Source: Food Safety News

Sugar is the toxin responsible for most of today's health problems, a California endocrinologist who conducts research for the American Heart Association, told the television magazine program 60 Minutes Sunday.

April 3, 2012 US obesity 'higher than thought'

Source: BBC

The obesity problem in the US may be much worse than previously thought, according to researchers. They said using the Body Mass Index or BMI to determine obesity was underestimating the issue.

April 2, 2012 Opposing view: LFTB is 100% beef

Source: USA Today

The American public has a right and a responsibility to be concerned about the safety, nutrition and quality of our nation's food. It is only natural that we look to the news media and our network of friends and family to help...

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