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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.
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
November 4, 2011 Deaths from Listeria in Cantaloupe Rise to 29Source: Time
The death toll in an outbreak of listeria in cantaloupe has reached 29 after federal health authorities say an eighth person has died in Colorado. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that 139 persons...
November 4, 2011 FDA Officials In China To Plug New Food Safety LawSource: NAtional Public Radio
Fifteen percent of the food Americans eat is imported, including 80 percent of the seafood, and two-thirds of the fruit and vegetables. Our current food safety system can't even begin to keep tabs on the 24 million shipping...
November 3, 2011 FDA probes pet food for human safetySource: WISH TV
The Food and Drug Administration says it is stepping up its efforts to test pet food for salmonella. While the health of pets is a concern, the focus for this one year study will be on the health of humans. In a news release...
November 2, 2011 Food Safety and Raw MilkSource: US FDA
Pasteurization of milk was adopted decades ago as a basic public health measure to kill dangerous bacteria and largely eliminate the risk of getting sick from one of the most important staples of the American diet. In 1987, the...
November 1, 2011 Advertising For Sugar Drinks Works!Source: ePost Media
A new study by The Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity has determined that sugar drinks are the #1 source of calories in American teenager's diets. The sugar drinks industries are also advertising more
November 1, 2011 Smithfield Foods Invites Conversation With Launch of New smithfieldcommitments.com WebsiteSource: Marketwatch
SMITHFIELD, Va.-- Today, Smithfield Foods, Inc. launched its new interactive Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) website that speaks to consumers who wish to know more about the food they eat, allowing for a deeper, more timely...
November 1, 2011 Illnesses show 'organic' no guarantee of food safetySource: Ithaca Journal
WASHINGTON -- Shoppers nervous about foodborne illnesses may turn to foods produced at smaller farms or labeled "local," "organic" or "natural" in the hopes that such products are safer. But a small outbreak of salmonella in...
October 31, 2011 5,000 pounds of pine nuts recalledSource: CNN
The Wegmans supermarket chain is recalling 5,000 pounds of Turkish pine nuts because of possible salmonella contamination, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said. At least 43 cases of salmonellosis in California, Maryland,...
October 31, 2011 Fukushima Plant Released Record Amount of Radiation Into SeaSource: BusinessWeek
The destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan was responsible for the biggest discharge of radioactive material into the ocean in history, a study from a French nuclear safety institute said. The radioactive cesium that flowed...
October 28, 2011 Food companies petitioned to ban new Monsanto GMO cornSource: Reuters
Opponents of Monsanto's new genetically modified sweet corn are petitioning national food retailers and processors to ban the biotech corn, which is not labeled as being genetically altered from conventional corn. A coalition of...
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