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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

March 7, 2013 Bumble Bee Tuna Recall: Company Pulls Some 5-Once Cans Over Risk The Fish Could Spoil

Source: Huff Post

SAN DIEGO — Bumble Bee Foods LLC is recalling some of its 5-ounce canned tuna because of a risk the fish could spoil. The company said Wednesday that some cans' seals may not be tight enough. Loose seals could let in pathogens...

March 6, 2013 FDA's Strategic Shift from Reaction to Prevention

Source: Food Safety Magazine

After much ado, including a lawsuit aimed at forcing release of the proposed rules, on January 4, 2013—exactly 2 years after President Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) —the U.S. Food and Drug Administration...

March 6, 2013 From raw milk to sprouts to imported fish: food safety experts dish on what grocery store items they avoid

New York Daily News - Last month, the Centers for îDiseaseî Control and Prevention released a comprehensive report examining the types of foods that cause approximately 1 in 6 U.S. residents who report having...

March 6, 2013 Is a horse meat scandal likely in the U.S.'

Sioux City Journal - Q: What about imports' A: Only certain countries and companies can export meat to the United States, and the Agriculture Department's îFood Safety and Inspection Serviceî inspects products at the...

March 5, 2013 FDA Issues Food-Safety Plan for Imported Foods

Source: WebWire

According to Food Safety News, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced its plan to improve food safety in countries that export to the United States, fulfilling one of the mandates of the Food Safety...

March 4, 2013 China to set up food and drug agency after safety scandals

Source: South China Morning Post

Beijing will create a single agency to deal with food and drug regulation after recent scandals involving everything from tainted milk to recycled "gutter" oil, sources revealed. The ministerial-level body, due to be approved...

March 4, 2013 Salmonella Scare Prompts Easter Candy Recall

Source: ABC News

An Indiana candymaker has recalled packages of its chocolate-covered marshmallow eggs, which may contain salmonella. Zachary Confections announced the voluntary recall of the Easter treats Wednesday after a sample taken during...

March 4, 2013 BPA may increase asthma risk in kids, but tough to avoid - text/video

Source: Boston.com

Once again, the infamous chemical bisphenol A (BPA) has been linked to an increased risk of a health problem: this time asthma in kids. Excess exposure to BPA, which interferes with the body’s production of certain hormones, has...

March 4, 2013 Taco Bell in U.K. Discovers Horse Meat in Ground Beef Products

Source: Bloomberg

Yum! Brands Inc. (YUM)’s Taco Bell Mexican-food chain is the latest company to have found horse meat in its beef products, the U.K. Food Standards Agency said. Taco Bell withdrew ground beef from its three U.K. restaurants, the...

March 1, 2013 FDA launches series of meetings on food-safety proposals

Source: Yahoo/Reuters

WASHINGTON - The Food and Drug Administration kicked off a series of public meetings on Thursday to explain its proposed new rules for improving the safety of the nation's food supply - and gain feedback on the potential...

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