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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

February 13, 2013 Romania: Slaughterhouses did not commit fraud with horsemeat disguised as beef

Rapid City Journal - BUCHAREST, Romania | A maze of trading between meat wholesalers has made it increasingly difficult to trace the origins of food â enabling horsemeat disguised as beef to be sold in frozen meals across...

February 12, 2013 Meat industry under scrutiny as horsemeat scandal spreads

Source: CNN

London (CNN) -- A frozen food producer caught up in a scandal over horsemeat found in beef products in the United Kingdom, Sweden and France said Saturday it will sue the Romanian producer it blames for the problem.

February 12, 2013 US FSIS may inspect Chinese Poultry plants

worldpoultry.net - As a step towards a possible reopening of the US border to import Chinese Poultry, USDA's îFood Safety and Inspection Serviceî (FSIS) plans to inspect Chinese poultry processing plants. Washington...

February 11, 2013 Horsemeat scandal: possibly a ‘major international criminal conspiracy’ says environment secretary - video

Source: Guardian.co.uk

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson speaking on Saturday after an emergency meeting with food standards agency representatives, meat retailers and suppliers amid fears of fraud on an international scale. Paterson insists that...

February 11, 2013 Dairy ranks No.1 for food-borne-illness hospitalizations, CDC study says

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Milk, cheese and ice cream are big contributors to food-borne illness, the îCenter for Science in the Public Interestî, a Washington, D.C., consumer advocacy group that studies food...

February 11, 2013 Meat Industry Might Shut Down for Two Weeks

Opposing Views - If they're unable to come to an agreement, the USDA's îFood Safety and Inspection Serviceî will have to furlough its employees. This would lead to the meat industry losing close to $10 billion in...

February 8, 2013 DPH releases warning about possible bottled water contamination

Source: Fox Boston

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is warning the public to check 3-gallon and 5-gallon water bottles after a child fell ill from possible water contamination. The public should check any bottles purchased since Nov....

February 8, 2013 'Highly likely' criminals are responsible for horse meat contamination, FSA says

Source: Telegraph.co.uk

The FSA has ordered that all food retailers now carry out urgent tests on all processed beef products after some Findus lasagnes were found to contain 100 per cent horsemeat.

February 4, 2013 Granola Bars Replace Candy as U.S. Limits School Snacks

Source: Bloomberg

Candy bars in school vending machines will be replaced by granola and dried fruit under a U.S. plan that sets nutrition requirements for snacks, sodas and other food sold outside of regular meals.

February 1, 2013 Key questions remain unanswered weeks into horse meat controversy

Source: Irish Times

Any hopes on the part of the agri-food industry that the horse meat in burgers story would quietly go away were dashed this week as the ABP-owned Silvercrest Foods plant lost several major contracts.

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