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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

June 24, 2011 United releases tomato food safety metrics

Source: Fresh Plaza

The United Fresh Produce Association announced today the release of the 2011 version of The Food Safety Programs and Auditing Protocol for the Fresh Tomato Supply Chain, more commonly referred to as the Tomato Metrics. The...

June 23, 2011 G20 grapples with speculation, food security

Source: AFP

PARIS — The world's top economies seek Thursday to reach a deal to boost food security by limiting market speculation seen as behind recent price spikes that have hit consumers' pocketbooks and sparked unrest.

June 23, 2011 As Germany Outbreak Ebbs, Questions Linger

Source: Food Safety Ndews

After eight weeks, more than 3,700 illnesses and 40 deaths, Germany's E. coli outbreak is finally waning, but health officials and scientists around the world remain fixed on followup investigations and analysis, anxious to...

June 22, 2011 No Food Safety in These Numbers

Source: NY Times

I’m eager to cover some curious and less depressing topics here — did you know Asian multi-millionaires are cornering the market on first-growth Bordeaux? — and equally eager to stop throwing mind-numbing numbers around. But as...

June 22, 2011 AMA: BPA to Speed Eating, Group Adopts New Policies

Source: Medpagetoday

CHICAGO -- The American Medical Association has adopted a number of new policies, including one that recognizes that bisphenol A (BPA) interferes with human hormones, one that blasts the practice of competitive eating, and...

June 21, 2011 F.D.A. Confronts Challenge of Monitoring Imports

Source: NY Times

WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration commissioner, Dr. Margaret Hamburg, has repeatedly expressed alarm about the waves of imported food and drugs overwhelming her organization’s ability to monitor them, but through the...

June 20, 2011 Food safety fears rise in Asia video

Source: BBC News

The discovery of E. coli in the food chain in Germany brought the issue of food safety back to the headlines. In Taiwan recently, a food safety crisis was triggered by the discovery of a toxic chemical called DEHP in a wide...

June 17, 2011 Consumer watchdogs fiddled while European food safety burned

Source: Southwest Farm Press

So called consumer watchdog groups were silent on European E. coli outbreak. Tragedy in Europe will have an impact worldwide on food supplies. EU acted quickly to protect its farmers, food supplies from economic ruin..

June 16, 2011 US Food Safety Hotline Works to Prevent Food-Borne Illness

Source: VOA

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about one in six Americans get sick from food poisoning every year and about 3,000 of them die. Health officials say those numbers usually rise during this time of year as...

June 16, 2011 Food Safety Fears Grow in Japan on Skepticism at Radiation Testing Regime

Source: Bloomberg

Kimie Nozaki, a mother of three children living 60 kilometers from the crippled Fukushima nuclear reactors, said she doesn’t trust the government’s testing program for radiation-contaminated food. “Information from the government...

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