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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

July 9, 2012 UN food safety body sets limits on ractopamine

Source: Reuters

The United Nations' food standards body, the Codex Alimentarius Commission, has agreed on an acceptable level for veterinary drug ractopamine in pig and cattle tissues, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said on...

July 9, 2012 Meatball company recalls 300,000 pounds of meat over listeria risk

Source: Reuters

A New Jersey meatball manufacturer is recalling more than 300,000 pounds (136,000 kg) of meat products due to possible listeria contamination, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service said on...

July 6, 2012 The Land of the Free and the Home of Overdue Food Safety Rules

Source: OMB Watch

The 390 Americans who recently got sick from Salmonella in seafood probably missed out on yesterday's holiday celebrations. But they weren't the only ones who weren't celebrating: food safety advocates were also bemoaning yet...

July 5, 2012 Food safety becomes national priority (China}

Source: China Daily

The State Council pledged on Tuesday to solve food safety issues in three years, but effective supervision and punishment of those breaking the law is the key to accomplish the ambitious target, analysts said. "China's food...

July 3, 2012 Soda Makers Begin Their Push Against New York Ban

Source: NY Times

Lobbyists from Coca-Cola and other big soda companies have met with mayoral candidates and City Council members. Canvassers hired by the beverage industry are stopping New Yorkers on the street to solicit signatures on petitions....

July 2, 2012 Horse Slaughter Sides Agree on Food Safety Problem

Source: Food Safety News

Before horses can again be slaughtered in the United States for human consumption, USDA is going to have to get a harness on one food safety issue that all sides agree is a problem.

July 2, 2012 Listeria fears trigger recall of 2,598 cases of Dole salad

Source: MSNBC

Dole Fresh Vegetables has recalled 2,598 cases of bagged salads due to a possible risk from listeria, the Food and Drug Administration announced Sunday.

June 29, 2012 No quick-fix for China's troubled dairy industry

Source: Daily

BEIJING -China learned hard lessons from a contaminated milk scandal that left six babies dead four years ago but its dairy industry is still plagued by quality lapses, from toxic mold in milk to mercury in baby formula.

June 28, 2012 Wal-Mart China accused of food safety violations

Source: MSN Money

Wal-Mart (WMT 0.00%), the world's largest retailer, is facing allegations pertaining to food safety violations in China. According to claims by Beijing Food Safety Administration, Wal-Mart sold sesame oil and squid with...

June 27, 2012 Summary of FDA bill passed by Congress

Source: BusinessWeek

WASHINGTON — President Obama is expected to sign into law a mammoth bill passed by Congress Tuesday that reshapes how the Food and Drug Administration assures the safety of the drug supply, particularly imported medicines.

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