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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 26, 2013 Imported cucumbers sicken 73 people in 18 states with salmonella

Source: LA Times

More than 70 people in 18 states have fallen ill because of a salmonella outbreak linked to imported Mexican cucumbers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

April 25, 2013 Food Safety Regulations 'Unlawfully Withheld' By FDA, Court Rules

Source: Huff Post

The Food and Drug Administration has officially broken the law by failing to release regulations needed to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the 2011 legislation meant to overhaul the nation's food safety system.

April 24, 2013 Ground Beef, Chicken Cause More Hospitalizations Than Other Meats, Study Says

Source: Nature World News

Chicken and ground beef are the riskiest meats to eat, according to an analysis of 33,000 cases of foodborne illness. The two meats sent more people to the hospital than other meats. The analysis was conducted by the Center for...

April 23, 2013 Food dyes pose rainbow of risks

Mother Nature Network - according to a new report by the îCenter for Science in the Public Interestî. A top government scientist agrees, and says food dyes present unnecessary risks to the public. The three most...

April 22, 2013 Earth Day a time to mull what we eat

The Vancouver Sun - Animal agriculture is one of the biggest polluters on the planet. Both the îUnion of Concerned Scientistsî and the Worldwatch Institute have found that the livestock industry is among the biggest...

April 22, 2013 National Grange supports protection of Country of Origin Labeling on food

High Plains Journal - However, before COOL even went into effect, Canada and Mexico approached the îWorld Trade Organizationî and successfully argued that the implemented rules for meat products are a barrier to...

April 22, 2013 CDC Progress Report: Campylobacter and Vibrio Rates Rose in 2012

Source: Food Safety News

Infection rates of the foodborne pathogens Campylobacter and Vibrio parahaemolyticus rose in 2012, while other major pathogens generally maintained rates similar to recent years, according to the nation’s annual “food safety...

April 18, 2013 Farmers ask FDA about food safety rules

FreshPlaza - The sessions, sponsored by the California Farm Bureau Federation, California Certified Organic Farmers, Community Alliance with Family Farmers and îWestern Growersî, were held to educate those affected by...

April 18, 2013 The Hershey Company to Make Nutrition Information Simple

The Motley Fool - The Hershey Company along with members of the îGrocery Manufacturers Associationî (GMA), Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and National Confectioners Association (NCA) are voluntarily implementing...

April 17, 2013 Western Style Diet Makes You Die Young: Study

Source: Science World Report

Adhering to a western style diet lowers a person's chances of achieving older age in good health and with higher functionality, according to a news release. The latest study, published in The American Journal of Medicine, states...

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