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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

February 13, 2012 Hot Water Bath Eliminates Pathogens on Cantaloupe

Source: Food Safety News

The 2011 outbreak of Listeria monocytogenesis in cantaloupe sparked a heightened level of interest in efforts to make cantaloupe safer, with fruit and produce trade associations developing safety guidelines and California...

February 10, 2012 Bill Would Set Arsenic, Lead Limits in Juice

Source: Food Safety News

U.S. Representatives Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced a bill Wednesday that would require the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to set safety standards for arsenic and lead in juices. The "Arsenic...

February 9, 2012 CDC Lists Top 10 Saltiest Foods

Source: KRCR -TV

HEART HEALTH The Center For Disease Control recently released a new report about excessive sodium in some of the most common foods we eat.

February 9, 2012 Recall Reveals An Egg's Long Path To The Deli Sandwich

Source: National Public Radio

What did a Cobb salad and a chicken salad have in common that have made them the latest entries in a big ongoing food safety recall? The answer is eggs. Hard-boiled eggs, to be precise. More than 1 million eggs bound for...

February 8, 2012 Bread, not salty snacks the #1 source of killer sodium in US diets, says report

Source: Hamilton Spectator

Center for Center for Disease Control officials say they were amazed that just 10 foods are responsible for 44 per cent of the sodium consumed – and bread and rolls are at the top of the list.

February 8, 2012 World Consumers Doubtful About Food Safety, UL Study Finds

Source: Food Safety News

When the 117-year old UL (Underwriters Laboratories) has something to say about global food safety, it's probably a good idea to listen up. This time, UL is out with a survey of both consumer attitudes and the views of food...

February 7, 2012 ISO’s new standard for irradiation to help improve food quality, safety

Source: FNB News

A new ISO standard—ISO 14470:2011—provides state-of-the-art requirements for food irradiation, commonly used to improve quality and safety in food processing. ccording to a press note by the International Organisation for...

February 7, 2012 Oil, Food, Water: Is Everything Past Its Peak?

Source: Bloomberg

An unprecedented crisis faced America. Oil production was going to peak in just three to five years, resulting in foreign oil addiction and economic calamity. The scientist responsible for slapping the nation into consciousness...

February 7, 2012 Wal-Mart to add nutritional seal of approval to house-brand foods it says are healthiest

Source: Washington Post

NEW YORK — You may like the food you buy, but is it “Great for You”? Wal-Mart Stores Inc. plans to help its customers figure that out by adding a new green icon that reads “Great for You” to packaging of some of its house-brand...

February 6, 2012 Taco Bell Should Learn From A Long History of Food Outbreaks

Source: Food Poison Journal

The other day I said to MSNBC: "I think it just proves the point that it is always better to be transparent," said Bill Marler, a Seattle food safety lawyer who used his blog to lobby vigorously for the release of the name. "Taco...

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