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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
September 30, 2011 Killer cantaloupe, scary sprouts: No food is totally safe, but you can reduce your riskSource: Washington Post
MILWAUKEE — Avoid foreign produce. Wash and peel your fruit. Keep it refrigerated. None of these common tips would have guaranteed your safety from the deadliest food outbreak in a decade, the one involving cantaloupes from...
September 29, 2011 Listeria outbreak expected to cause more deaths across US in coming weeksSource: Guardian.co.uk
An outbreak of listeria in cantaloupe melons in the US may cause more illness and more deaths in the coming weeks, say US health officials. So far, the outbreak has caused at least 72 illnesses and up to 16 deaths, in 18 states,...
September 29, 2011 E. coli scare prompts Tyson to recall ground beefSource: Forbes
CINCINNATI -- Tyson Fresh Meats Inc. is recalling about 131,300 pounds of ground beef because a family in Ohio fell ill after eating meat produced by the company that was contaminated with E. coli, the U.S. Department of...
September 28, 2011 Listeria-cantaloupe-linked deaths rise to 16Source: CBS News
WASHINGTON - As many as 16 people have died from possible listeria illnesses traced to Colorado cantaloupes, health officials say — a death toll that would make the food outbreak the deadliest in more than a decade.
September 27, 2011 Thousands of Pounds of Pork Products RecalledSource: Wsaz.com
The US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service said Monday that the recall by K. Heeps Inc. of Allentown is for 4.5 pound boxes of Imperial Sysco "Puree Shaped Meats Country Style Pork ...
September 27, 2011 Cantaloupes Cause Listeria Outbreak in WyoSource: K2 Radio - WY
CHEYENNE, WYO. — Wyoming state health officials are investigating whether the death last week of a Sheridan County woman is related to contaminated cantaloupes from Colorado. Wyoming Department of Health Spokeswoman Kim Deti says...
September 26, 2011 Radioactivity in Japan Rice Raises WorriesSource: NY Times
TOKYO — Government officials on Saturday ordered more tests after detecting elevated levels of radiation in rice crops near the crippled nuclear power plant at Fukushima. Radioactive substances have already been discovered in...
September 26, 2011 USDA recalls beef headed for Georgia school lunchesSource: CNN
The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a Class I recall for 40,000 pounds of ground beef products intended for Georgia school lunches, due to possible E. coli contamination. The beef was produced by Palo Duro Meat in Amarillo,...
September 23, 2011 Egg company execs locked in post-recall legal battleSource: USA Today
Two giants in America's egg industry are locked in a bitter, $47 million legal fight.Eggs were the source of a 2010 salmonella outbreak that sickened 1,900. The court battle involves a splintered partnership that over the years...
September 23, 2011 Refrigerated Food Trucks Could Be Running Too HotSource: News Channel 5
According to the Center for Disease Control, foodborne illnesses kill 3000 Americans every year. That's why some states, including Indiana, are now arming state troopers with thermometers to test if refrigerated ...
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