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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.
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 14, 2010 Abu Dhabi Hosts International Food Safety MeetingSource: Food Safety News
The United Arab Emirates is hosting the first global meeting of the International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) this week. The event follows a series of high-profile food safety crackdowns in the UAE.
December 13, 2010 Food Safety: FDA Rules Need MakeoverSource: The Ledger. Com - FL
Each year, one in four Americans get sick from eating contaminated food, tens of thousands are hospitalized and more than 5,000 die. Yet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration operates under rules that date back 70 years. More...
December 10, 2010 Food Safety Bill Passes House, Heads Back to SenateSource: Food Product Design
WASHINGTON—The U.S. House of Representatives narrowly approved a $1.09 trillion appropriations bill Dec. 8 that funds the government for fiscal year 2011 and includes a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s food safety system. It now...
December 9, 2010 House Advances Food Safety BillSource: Food Safety News
Food safety legislation inched forward Wednesday as the House passed the Senate version of the bill as part of a larger resolution to fund the federal government for the next several months.
December 9, 2010 Dirty money: Tests detect chemical BPA on dollar billsSource: MSNBC
As if holiday shopping weren’t stressful enough, a new report says the dwindling stash of cash in your wallet might be tainted with the controversial chemical BPA.
Source: US News and World Report
TUESDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. researchers who recently found high levels of polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants in butter say it is the worst documented case of food contamination with PBDE in the...
December 8, 2010 The Food-Safety Bill: Flawed, and NeededSource: Time blog
The Senate's Food Safety Modernization Act, prematurely announced as a done deal a week ago, is stalled again — or "doomed," if you go by some news outlets. In any case, it's in trouble. The Senate bill contains provisions for...
Source: Scientific America
If the current food safety bill is signed into law, the origins of contaminants in mystery meats and other comestibles consumed in U.S. food should be faster and easier to uncover and trace
December 6, 2010 For food-safety overhaul, lobbyists rushed to the tableSource: Washington Post
The overhaul of food safety laws recently passed by the Senate had the support of business interests, consumer groups and lawmakers from both parties, but the bipartisan legislation still generated plenty of work along the K...
December 6, 2010 The Food Cycle: Recall, Forget, RepeatSource: NY Times
Memories can be short when it comes to food recalls. Surveys show that Americans are concerned about food contamination, but experts say that recalls have only a short-term effect on consumers.
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