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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
February 19, 2013 Nestle finds horse meat in beef pasta mealsSource: AP
BERLIN — The world's biggest food and drinks maker Nestle SA has become the latest company to pull some of its products off European shelves after they were found to contain undeclared horse meat.
February 18, 2013 How Safe Is Our Meat'
NPR News - LYDEN: That's Carol Tucker-Foreman, a distinguished fellow at the îConsumer Federation of Americaî's Food Policy Institute. TUCKER-FOREMAN: If there ever can be any comfort to people who have lost a child,...
February 18, 2013 Food Sovereignty: Think Globally, Eat Locally
truth-out.org - The proponents of this model are the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), îWorld Trade Organizationî (WTO), governments of industrialized countries, large landholders, and corporations. They...
February 15, 2013 Food Recalls Hit Two-Year High in Fourth Quarter of 2012, According to Latest ExpertRECALL IndexSource: PR News Wire
Food recalls documented by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enforcement reports during the fourth quarter of 2012 reached a two year quarterly high, according to the ExpertRECALL™ Index released today. This activity...
February 15, 2013 France Says Spanghero Suspected in Swapping Horse-Meat LabelsSource: Bloomberg
Spanghero SAS, a French meat- processing company, received at least 750 tons of meat coded as horse that left its facility labeled as European Union beef, France’s government said.
February 15, 2013 Health groups push FDA to crack down on sugary drinks
The Hill - A petition led by îCenter for Science in the Public Interestî (CSPI) asks the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to study and publish regulations on the levels of sugar in soda and other non-alcoholic...
February 14, 2013 FDA urged to regulate sugar in drinksSource: Boston Globe
The FDA should regulate the amount of added sugars in soda and other sweetened beverages to reverse the obesity epidemic, a Washington-based nutrition activist group urged in a petition signed by Harvard researchers, the Boston...
February 14, 2013 Why Beef Is Becoming More Like Chicken
Slate - It is also what necessitates the battery of pharmaceuticals and feed additives that cattle must consume to stay healthy and gain weightâas îMichael Pollanî and others have noted, cattle didnât...
February 14, 2013 UK lawmakers say horsemeat discoveries "tip of the iceberg"Source: Reuters
Discoveries so far of horsemeat in products sold as beef are likely to be the "tip of the iceberg", a British parliamentary report into the scandal said on Thursday.
February 13, 2013 Chinese antibiotic use 'threatening Australian food safety'Source: ABC.net.au
Scientists have warned that Australia could be importing superbugs in its food supply because of China's rampant use of antibiotics on farms.
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