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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

December 7, 2011 Food safety key focus for Florida tomato industry

Source: The Packer

PALMETTO, Fla. — Florida tomato growers and packers remain on the forefront of food safety practices. To help assure the tomatoes they ship remain free of contamination, Florida tomato industry leaders in 2008 persuaded state...

December 6, 2011 Radioactive Cesium in Meiji Milk Spurs Recall (Japan)

Source: Bloomberg

Radioactive cesium was found in milk powder made by a Meiji Holdings Co. unit, causing the shares to fall the most in eight months and raising concern that nuclear radiation is contaminating baby food. Meiji found traces of...

December 5, 2011 Undercover Investigation Inside Quebec Slaughterhouse Reveals Serious Food Safety and Horse Welfare Concerns

Source: Sacramento Bee

Today, footage and photos captured by an anonymous source at Les Viandes de la Petite-Nation Inc. in St. Andre-Avellin, Quebec, are being released by the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC):...

December 2, 2011 Food safety law gets $39m funding for 2012

Source: Food Quality News

The majority of a $50m increase in Food and Drug Administration (FDA) funding for fiscal 2012 will go toward implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act, after a lobbying group backed by several food industry trade...

December 1, 2011 NRC Opens Door to Online Posting of FSIS Inspection Data

Source: Food Safety News

Posting the results of government meat, poultry and egg inspections and testing data could have "substantial benefits" to food safety, according to the highly respected National Research Council. An NRC committee made up of...

November 30, 2011 Apple Juice Is Still Safe, FDA Says

Source: Food Safety News

The Food and Drug Administration has reiterated its finding that apple juice sold across the U.S. is safe to drink, with naturally occurring arsenic levels well below the agency's "level of concern," but says it may set new...

November 29, 2011 Europe Re-Evaluates Aspartame Studies

Source: Food Safty News

The European Food Safety Authority is moving up a review of the artificial sweetener aspartame originally scheduled for 2020. In doing so, EFSA will be writing another chapter in one of the longest running controversies over the...

November 29, 2011 The Next Industry That China Takes Over Could Be Vaccines

Source: Business Insider

... the market economy, democracy, media monitoring, civil society, as well as a well-developed business ethics code, but these are all still pretty much absent in China," said Yanzhong Huang, a China health ...

November 28, 2011 Raw Milk Myths -- Busted

Source: Food Safety News

Whether urban legends, deceptive marketing, or beliefs held by raw milk proponents under a siege mentality, there are more microbiological and nutritional myths about raw milk than nearly any other food.

November 25, 2011 China govt under fire over new food bacteria rule

Source: AP

BEIJING — China's state-run media and web users criticised the government after it ruled that small amounts of a potentially lethal bacterium were permissible in frozen food. The health ministry ruling followed a series of...

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