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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 21, 2011 LCQ3: Radiation levels of Japanese food products

Source: 7th space.com

It has been reported that earlier on, a Japanese food company carried out sample tests on its infant formulas and found that some of them contained radioactive substances, namely cesium-134 and cesium-137, and the company decided...

December 20, 2011 Recall Prompts More Calls for Action on Ag Antibiotics

Source: Food Safety News

Reacting to the most ground beef recall and outbreak involving an antibiotic-resistant strain of Salmonella, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and the Center for Science in the Public Interest are again calling for federal...

December 19, 2011 Feds’ GM Food Proposal Compromises Food Safety, Say Groups

Source: The Epoch Times

A federal government proposal that would allow low levels of contamination from genetically modified foods from other countries is raising concerns among activist groups. The proposed policy on “low level presence” (LLP) relates...

December 17, 2011 Ground Beef Recall: E. Coli Concerns Prompt Tyson Fresh Meats Recall

Source: The Inquisitr

Tyson Fresh Meats Inc., a Dakota City, Neb. establishment, is recalling approximately 40,948 pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and ...

December 16, 2011 USDA Unveils Online Tool to Help Farmers With Food Safety

Source: Food Safety News

During the heated debate last year over the newly enacted Food Safety Modernization Act, small farmers were loud and clear with their concerns about burdensome food safety regulations. Farmers across the country, along with...

December 15, 2011 Food safety study to focus on leafy greens, tomatoes

Source: The Packer

A multi-million dollar study spearheaded by the University of Maryland aims to give scientific backing to food safety standards in the leafy greens and tomato industries. The $9.4 million, three-year study is a joint effort of...

December 14, 2011 Creating a Food Safety Plan for Local Growers

Source: Food Safety News

The popularity of farmers markets and direct farm-to-market sales, such as Community Supported Agriculture, is growing nationwide. The mission of the "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food" program through the U.S. Department of...

December 13, 2011 3M Food Safety Unveils Innovative Molecular Detection System for Dangerous Foodborne Pathogens

Source: MarketWatch

After decades of transforming the food processing industry with 3M(TM) Petrifilm(TM) Plates, 3M is once again revolutionizing the industry -- this time in the area of pathogen detection. Today, 3M Food Safety introduces the...

December 12, 2011 Salmonella Tainted Cilantro - Over 6,000 Cartons Recalled, USA

Source: Medical News Today

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) informs that 6,141 cartons of Cilantro are being recalled after some samples tested positive for Salmonella at distributor level. Pacific International Marketing has issued the recall and...

December 9, 2011 Food Safety Eclipses Rising Food Costs as Top Food Story of 2011

Source: MarketWatch

Food safety tops the list of an annual survey asking Americans to choose the most significant food story of 2011. Even in a year when global food prices hit record highs and both restaurant menus and retail food labels got a new...

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