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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
August 1, 2011 Japanese rice to be tested for radioactive cesiumSource: Reuters
More than a dozen regional governments in Japan will conduct tests to determine whether locally grown rice contains too much radioactive cesium, farm ministry officials said on Monday, as food safety worries spill into the...
July 29, 2011 Food Recall: Arizona firm fails to inspect meat productsSource: Tucson Citizen
WASHINGTON – SHSCO Manufacturing LLC, a Phoenix, Ariz., establishment, is recalling an undetermined amount of meat products because the products were produced without federal inspection, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food...
July 29, 2011 Hold the soda, not just those friesSource: Star Tribune
McDonald's gained favorable reviews for announcing this week it would include apples and fewer fries in Happy Meals, but the University of Minnesota's Simone French said the fast-food chain missed a bigger chance to improve kids'...
Source: Washington Post Blog
Firing up the barbecue can be as dangerous as lighting a cigarette, according to a new billboard which reads, “Warning: Hot dogs can wreck your health.” This statement, along with a photograph of hot dogs in a cigarette pack,...
July 28, 2011 China to offer rewards for food safety informersSource: Reuters
China will offer rewards to people who report on food safety issues such as the illegal use of additives or sale of meat from animals which die of disease, state media said Thursday, as Beijing tries again to crack down on a...
July 28, 2011 Japan cattle shipment halt expands amid radiation scareSource: Reuters
Japan extended on Thursday its ban on beef cattle shipments to include Miyagi prefecture after finding radiation levels exceeding safety standards in some cattle, adding to worries over food safety as the country grapples with...
July 27, 2011 Food Safety Attorney Calls on Government to Fund Food Safety Bill in Wake of Papaya Salmonella OutbreakSource: Food Poisan Journal
On July 26, 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 99 people, ranging in age from 1 to 91, are part of a nationwide Salmonella outbreak that has been traced to contaminated papayas imported from...
July 27, 2011 McDonald's Unveils Healthier Happy MealSource: WTKR - TV
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer group that advocates healthier restaurant food for children, last year sued McDonald's to stop the world's largest hamburger chain from using Happy ...
Source: World Poultry
The US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is proposing a new rule to establish common, easy-to-understand names for raw meat and poultry products that include injections, ... > 1862
Source: The Packer
The Food and Drug Administration is trying to encourage all sectors involved in food and regulations to work together to prepare for food safety emergencies. On July 20, the FDA and its federal agency partners released its Food...
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