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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

February 28, 2013 It’s the Sugar, Folks

Source: NY Times

Sugar is indeed toxic. It may not be the only problem with the Standard American Diet, but it’s fast becoming clear that it’s the major one.

February 28, 2013 Poland finds signs of horse meat at three warehouses

Source: Reuters

Polish authorities found signs of horse DNA in beef stored at three storage facilities after several countries pointed to Poland as one of the sources of tainted meat that has shaken up the European food industry.

February 27, 2013 Pistachios Recalled for Salmonella Risk in California

Source: Food Safety News

A California company is recalling 1,200 pounds of pistachios because they may be contaminated with Salmonella. Hoop Nuts LLC of Van Nuys, CA issued a voluntary recall of 600 pounds of raw and 600 pounds of dry roasted pistachios...

February 26, 2013 “Honeygate” Sting Leads to Charges for Illegal Chinese Honey Importation

Source: Food Safety News

Five people and two U.S. honey processors were charged with federal crimes last week as a result of an investigation into illegal importation of honey from China, known as “Honeygate,” led by the U.S. Immigration and Customs...

February 26, 2013 Horsemeat scandal: Ikea withdraws all meatballs from UK stores

Source: Guardian.co.uk

Ikea has withdrawn all meatballs from sale in stores in the UK and more than 20 other European countries after tests by authorities in the Czech Republic found traces of horsemeat in its Kottbullar line.

February 26, 2013 FDA warns Colorado cantaloupe farms they will be tested in 2013

Denver Post - In the event of adverse findings, we will take action as needed to protect the public health," read the letter, from Michael Landa, director of the FDA's îCenter for Food Safety and Applied Nutritionî. A...

February 26, 2013 Oxfam reveals global food firms' gaping ethical shortfalls

Source: Guardian.co.uk

The world's largest food companies are failing to meet ethical standards, a report from Oxfam has warned. None of the leading global brands such as Nestlé, Mars and Coca-Cola were given good overall ratings on their commitments...

February 25, 2013 The Best of Food Safety: The Food Industry

Source: Food Safety News

The names that grace this list recognize that food safety must be a top priority for their brands and have made innovations to keep our food supply safer part of their daily routines. Here, we recognize companies that have gone...

February 24, 2013 Consumer watchdog wants sugar limits for soft drinks

Palm Beach Post - Soft drinks are so full of sweeteners that they are unsafe, says the îCenter for Science in the Public Interestî, which last week asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to determine âsafe...

February 23, 2013 Horsemeat in European Beef Scandal Affects Burger King, Nestle; Is U.S. Beef Safe'

Opposing Views - coli with their burgers. According to îCenter for Disease Controlî estimates, 48 million Americans get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne illnesses every year. Is this a...

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