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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

January 31, 2012 Food Industry Tells Obama Administration: No Food Safety Fees

Source: Food Safety News

Leading food industry groups are urging the Obama administration to adequately fund federal food safety oversight, instead of seeking new taxes or regulatory fees.

January 30, 2012 New Poultry Inspection Will Make a Difference, FSIS Says

Source: Food Safety News

Philip Derfler, deputy administrator at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, touted the new proposed rule on poultry inspection last week at a Food and Drug Law Institute's conference. Under...

January 30, 2012 EFSA Guidance for Food & Feed from GM Animals

Source: The Fish Site

EU - The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published guidance for the risk assessment of food and feed derived from GM animals and on related animal health and welfare aspects.

January 30, 2012 FDA seizes nearly 14% of imported orange juice over fungicide

Source: LA Times

The imported orange juice contained trace amounts of carbendazim, used to combat a fungus that leaves black spots on tree leaves. The fungicide is not allowed in the U.S.

January 27, 2012 Calls for GMO Labeling Keep Cropping Up

Source: Food Politics, Food Safety News

Like a persistent mosquito that keeps coming back no matter how many times you bat it away, the controversial issue of mandated labeling for genetically engineered foods in the United States just won't go away. The latest example...

January 26, 2012 Editorial: Food safety auditors too tied to industry

Source: USA Today

The first hints of trouble came last Sept. 2. Trackers who watch for outbreaks of dangerous diseases noticed that seven people in Colorado had come down with listeriosis, a potentially fatal food-borne illness. Within two weeks,...

January 25, 2012 Opposing view: Food safety is more than about audits

Source: USA Today

Food safety has always been the highest priority for the people who grow, ship and sell our nation's fresh fruits and vegetables. Recognizing there is no one solution, we take a holistic approach to food safety, constantly...

January 24, 2012 Supreme Court Blocks California's Downer Livestock Law

Source: Food Safety News

In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a California law on Monday that required the euthanization of downer livestock, to promote animal welfare and keep them out of the food supply. In 2009, California...

January 24, 2012 Orange juice ends at record peak on Brazil import ban talk

Source: Reuters

Orange juice futures barreled to a record high close on Monday due to speculation the United States might ban Brazilian juice imports for using a fungicide as it reached nearly 1,300 lots, over a third under the 30-day norm, the...

January 23, 2012 Japanese Struggle to Protect Their Food Supply

Source: NY Times

ONAMI, Japan — In the fall, as this valley’s rice paddies ripened into a carpet of gold, inspectors came to check for radioactive contamination. Onami sits just 35 miles northwest of the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant,...

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