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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
February 21, 2011 Concern grows over food safety - videoSource: Xinhuanet
BEIJING -- Food safety is gaining more prominence in China following a number of scandals. As CCTV reporter Guan Xin finds out, ordinary Chinese feel they need better protection and hope the government's promise to tighten...
February 21, 2011 NY Times asks: Why aren't GMO foods labeled?Source: Natural News.com
It is a question that more people should be asking, and one that even some in the mainstream media have begun to entertain: why are genetically-modified (GM) foods, which are patently (no pun intended) different from conventional...
February 18, 2011 Taylor Highlights Food Safety Law at Global ForumSource: Food Safety News
U.S. Food and Drug Administration Deputy Commissioner for Foods Michael Taylor delivered remarks before a truly international audience Thursday, highlighting the new food safety law's impact on imports. Taylor emphasized that...
February 17, 2011 FDA Urged to Ban Cola Caramel ColoringSource: Food Safety News
Washington, D.C.-based Center for Science in the Public Interest filed a petition Wednesday asking that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ban two types of carcinogenic chemicals often labeled as "caramel coloring," most often...
February 16, 2011 FDA requests extra funding for food safety law in 2012 budgetSource: Food Navigator-USA
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has requested a record $4.3bn budget for fiscal 2012, including $324m to start implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act. If granted, the budget would represent a 33 percent increase on...
February 16, 2011 World Bank warns of soaring food price dangersSource: Guardian.co.uk
The World Bank has given a stark warning of the impact of the rising cost of food, saying an estimated 44 million people had been pushed into poverty since last summer by soaring commodity prices. Robert Zoellick, the Bank's...
February 15, 2011 China vows to enhance investigation of food safety incidentsSource: Xinhau
China's health authorities Tuesday vowed to improve their response to food safety incidents. The ministry would issue a protocol "as early as possible" on how to respond to and investigate food safety incidents, said Vice Health...
February 14, 2011 Food Study Finds Consumers Value Safer Food More than Analyses SuggestSource: Occupational Health and Safety
Government regulators could more realistically assess the value of improving food safety if they considered the fact that consumers typically want to avoid getting sick--even if it means they have to pay a little extra for safer...
February 14, 2011 Man versus natureSource: Times of India
No water, no future; no food, no future; no energy, no future; no environment, degraded future. Thus might one with a penchant for the pithy explain the nexus between these essentials and the gravity of the emergent global...
February 11, 2011 Food Recalls: FDA Takes Preventive Approach - videoSource: Medscape
I am Eli Adashi, Professor of Medical Science at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, and host of Medscape One-on-One. Joining me today is Mr. Michael Taylor, the first-ever Deputy Commissioner for Foods at the US Food...
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