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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

December 3, 2012 USA - Dirty machinery main cause of Listeria

Meattradenewsdaily (blog) - In comments to USDAâs îFood Safety and Inspection Serviceî (FSIS) about a newly released compliance guideline for Listeria monocytogenes control in post-lethality ready-to-eat meat...

November 30, 2012 Safe peanut butter, and beyond

Source: LA Times

The bins of peanuts outside were uncovered, food safety inspectors reported, allowing birds to do on them what birds do. Employees failed to wash their hands regularly or to practice other basic hygiene. Salmonella was found in...

November 30, 2012 CDC Releases Information about 2011 Salmonella Bovismorbificans Tahini Outbreak

foodpoisoningbulletin.com - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released ... Public health officials isolated the outbreak strain of the bacteria from hummus collected from restaurant A. The Departmentî of...

November 29, 2012 Sunland: FDA Didn't Warn Of Peanut Butter Recall-Related Suspension

Source: Washington Post

The Food and Drug Administration suspended Sunland Inc.'s registration as a food facility on Monday, two months after issuing a recall on 240 products containing Sunland's organic peanut butter, which has sickened at least 41...

November 28, 2012 Consumer Reports Finds Most Pork Contaminated With Yersinia

Source: Food Safety News

In a new study of raw pork chops and ground pork, Consumer Reports found 69 percent of samples were contaminated with Yersinia enterocolitica, according to a report published by the group today.

November 28, 2012 F.D.A. May Tap Experts on Energy Drinks

Source: NY Times

The Food and Drug Administration said in a letter released on Tuesday that it was likely to seek advice from outside experts to help determine whether energy drinks posed particular risks to teenagers or people with underlying...

November 27, 2012 FDA halts company's peanut butter operations

Source: USA Today

The Food and Drug Administration halted operations of the country's largest organic peanut butter processor Monday, cracking down on salmonella poisoning for the first time with the new enforcement authority the agency gained in...

November 26, 2012 Canada Adopts New Federal Food Safety Law

Source: Food Safety News

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has won the unanimous consent of the House of Commons for Canada’s new federal food safety law. With its earlier passage by the Senate, that means the Safe Food for Canadians Act, Bill...

November 16, 2012 Big Spike in Food Recalls During Third Quarter

Source: Food Safety News

Food recalls occurred at a four-per-day clip during the third quarter, reaching their highest levels in two years, according to data produced by Indianapolis-based Stericycle ExpertRECALL.

November 16, 2012 FDA probes whether deaths linked to energy shots

Source: USA Today

The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday that it is investigating 13 reports of deaths and 33 hospitalizations linked to 5-hour Energy, the highly caffeinated shots that are often sold in convenience stores.

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