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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

November 21, 2011 Studies detail post-Fukushima radioactivity levels

Source: LA Times

Eight months after a magnitude 9 earthquake and resulting tsunami crippled Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and spewed radioactive material for hundreds of miles, scientists have produced maps showing how much...

November 17, 2011 Grocery loyalty cards help trace food-borne illness source

Source: USA Today

An outbreak of salmonella in five Eastern states has sickened 42 people so far this year, with two hospitalizations. Dozens more might have been struck down were it not for a strikingly successful new tool used by public health...

November 16, 2011 China’s poisonous exports

Source: Washington Times

The Chinese have peddled numerous toxic products to American consumers, including everything from children’s toys to adult vitamins to pet food. The U.S. government regularly stops more poisonous or faulty products at the border...

November 15, 2011 U.S. Still a Dumping Ground for Crappy Honey, Study Finds

Source: LA Weekly

They're calling it "honey laundering." More than three-fourths of the honey sold in U.S. grocery stores is filtered to the point where it contains no pollen -- which would make it flunk the quality standards set by most of the...

November 14, 2011 Grocery Manufacturers Association Plays Key Role in Announcing Partnership to Create the World’s First Global Food Safety Fund

Source: News,Gnom.es

WASHINGTON — Pamela G. Bailey, president and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), joined U.S. government and World Bank officials in announcing an innovative public private partnership that has pledged $1 million...

November 11, 2011 E. coli Expert and Attorney Calls on Petting Zoos and Fairs to Clean up Their Acts

Source: Food Poison Journal

In the same week that a two-year-old Charlotte-area boy has finally been released from the hospital after a life-threatening E. coli O157:H7 infection, North Carolina health officials are linking the outbreak that sickened him to...

November 10, 2011 Five-state Salmonella outbreak linked to chicken livers

Source: CIDRAP

A New York food processor has recalled broiled chicken liver products that have been linked to at least 169 Salmonella Heidelberg infections in five states, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and state health...

November 9, 2011 Fallout From Listeria Outbreak Hits Wal-Mart: Retail

Source: Bloomberg

In late August, Charles Palmer ate cantaloupe bought at a Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) store in Colorado. Two weeks later, he began feeling sick, then became unresponsive and was rushed to a hospital where doctors diagnosed a...

November 8, 2011 Recalls Spark Food Safety Concerns

Source: NBC LA

The parade of contaminated foods recalled by manufacturers has continued for weeks, sparking new concerns about safety.The list is long: a deadly outbreak of listeria from cantaloupes, a highly contagious virus in frozen oysters,...

November 7, 2011 Tests Show Most Store Honey Isn't Honey

Source: Food Safety News

More than three-fourths of the honey sold in U.S. grocery stores isn't exactly what the bees produce, according to testing done exclusively for Food Safety News. The results show that the pollen frequently has been filtered out...

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