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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

April 18, 2011 Drug resistant bacteria found in nearly half of US meat and poultry

Source: Food Magazine - AU

Almost half the meat and poultry sold in the US is contaminated by highly dangerous bacteria, according to new research published in the scientific journal, Clinical Infectious Diseases.

April 14, 2011 FDA makes food recall search more consumer-friendly

Source: ABC News

TAMPA - Are you looking for an easier way to see which food products are being recalled this week? The FDA just unveiled a new website that may help. The new, consumer-friendly search tool covers food, drug, animal product, and...

April 14, 2011 Why Does FDA Tolerate More Radiation Than EPA?

Source: Forbes blog

Since the Environmental Protection Agency began detecting radiation in rainwater and milk at levels above its maximum contaminant level, government officials have been downplaying the importance of EPA’s maximum contaminant...

April 13, 2011 Federal Food Safety Agencies Spared Major Cuts

Source: Food Safety News

Key food safety agencies will likely escape major budget cuts for the remainder of the fiscal year, according to new details released by Congressional appropriators. Though lawmakers reached an historic agreement late last Friday...

April 12, 2011 Yes or No on Nanoparticles in Food'

Source: Triple Pundit

You may have read that nanoparticles are used in literally hundreds of products on supermarket shelves. This new technology is reported to be prevalent in U.S. food applications, including nutritional additives, stronger...

April 12, 2011 More Than 100 Food Recalls During First Quarter

Source: Food Safety News

There were more than 100 food recalls during the just-ended first quarter of the year, according to federal food safety agencies. At least 48 of the 103 recalls -- almost half the total -- were because manufacturers had used but...

April 11, 2011 Japan on Defensive Over Food Safety Concerns

Source: VOA News

The Japanese government is trying to fight against growing concerns that food from Japan is not safe. At a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Jakarta, Indonesia Saturday, Japan's Foreign Ministry insisted...

April 11, 2011 Newly formed Institute for Food Safety and Health Opens at IIT

Source: Quality Assurance and Food Safety.com

On April 11, an inaugural launch event marked the National Center for Food Safety and Technology's (NCFST) transition to a principal operating center within the newly formed Institute for Food Safety and Health (IFSH) at Illinois...

April 7, 2011 Test and Hold: 'This is Not a Sea Change'

Source: Food Safety News

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's announcement Tuesday that it is moving toward mandating a test-and-hold policy for the meat and poultry industry drew some praise, but the overall consensus seems to be that while the change...

April 7, 2011 Scientists find superbugs in Delhi drinking water

Source: Reuters

A gene that makes bugs highly resistant to almost all known antibiotics has been found in bacteria in water supplies in New Delhi used by local people for drinking, washing and cooking, scientists said on Thursday.

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