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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 2, 2013 Being Overweight Is Linked to Lower Risk of Mortality

Source: Time

The longest lived among us aren’t necessarily those who are of normal weight, says a new study. According to new research this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers say that being...

January 2, 2013 Brain image study: Fructose may spur overeating

newsvine.com - â This is your brain on sugar â for real. Scientists have used imaging tests to show for the first time that fructose, a sugar that saturates the American diet, can trigger brain changes that may lead...

January 2, 2013 USA - More meat recalls than the rest of the world put together

Meattradenewsdaily (blog) - Two companies initiated recalls on misbranding and undeclared allergens, according to the US Department of Agriculture's îFood Safety and Inspection Serviceî.  Stehouwer's...

December 31, 2012 Beijing to enact strict new food safety laws: Xinhua

Source: Reuters

Beijing will introduce tough new laws to punish firms that flout food safety laws, the official Xinhua news agency reported, a significant move in China's struggle to get its abysmal food safety record under control.

December 28, 2012 Top Ten Most Important Food Safety Stories of 2012

Source: Food Safety News

Like yesterday’s Reader’s Choices, the stories that drove Food Safety News’ readership to new heights, the Top Ten a way of reviewing all that’s occurred during the past year. What we think is important and what you, the reader,...

December 27, 2012 Childhood obesity rates fall slightly, say CDC researchers

Source: CBS News

Childhood obesity rates are finally falling in the United States after years of increasing, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.

December 27, 2012 National View: Cultivating a better food system in 2013

South Coast Today - Eaters Demanding Healthier Food: Food writer îMichael Pollanî advises not to eat anything that your grandparents wouldn't recognize. Try eating more fruits, vegetables and whole foods without...

December 26, 2012 WSJ: Yum! Brands Receives Shanghai Regulators' Support On Safety

Source: RTT news

The Shanghai Food and Drug Administration gave Yum! Brands Inc. (YUM: Quote) some shelter from criticism by China's state-run media of its food-safety practices, saying chicken sampled from the U.S. restaurant company's KFC arm...

December 21, 2012 Wet Markets in China: A Food Safety Perspective

Source: Food Safety News

While I was studying in Hong Kong, I lived in the Sai Ying Pun neighbourhood, an area abundant with local retailers and with a large wet market selling a wide variety of fresh produce, seafood, and meat. There wasn’t really...

December 20, 2012 As Fiscal Cliff Approaches, Advocates Worry About Food Safety

Source: Food Safety News

The nation is just two weeks away from going off the so-called ‘fiscal cliff’ — a combination of significant, automatic budget cuts and the expiration of the Bush tax cuts. Most economists agree that this Washington-made crisis...

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