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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

March 13, 2012 High Liner Foods Reports Substantial Progress On Its Sustainability Commitment

Source: BusinessWire

LUNENBURG, Nova Scotia--(BUSINESS WIRE)--High Liner Foods Inc. (TSX: HLF; HLF.A), the leading value-added seafood supplier in North America, announced today that it has made significant progress since the company announced its...

March 9, 2012 Road salt in food sees mass recall

Source: UKPA

Polish health authorities have ordered the withdrawal from the market of more than 230 tonnes of pickles, bread and other food suspected of containing industrial salt. It is the latest development in a scandal that has raised...

March 8, 2012 FDA to decide on BPA-use in food packaging by March 31

Source: CBS News

The controversial chemical BPA may be on it's way out of your food supply. The FDA said they will issue a ruling about the use of BPA in food and beverage packaging by March 31, 2012. The inquiry is a result of a National...

March 8, 2012 Campbell's Soup Phasing Out BPA Use in Cans

Source: Food Safety News

Although it maintains that the bisphenol A (BPA) in its cans is safe, the Campbell Soup Company says it has already switched to alternatives in some packaging as it ends the use of the controversial chemical.

March 7, 2012 USDA begins tweeting food recall alerts

Source: DesMoines Register

DES MOINES, Iowa — Anyone with a Twitter account can now be among the first to know about food recalls with a new service the Department of Agriculture is rolling out. The USDA says state-specific food safety alerts for meat,...

March 6, 2012 Cancer Risk Found in Coke, Pepsi: Group

Source: BusinessWeek

U.S. regulators, reviewing an advocacy group’s complaint that a chemical used in colas causes tumors in animals, said there’s no immediate risk to consumers from the substance. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a...

March 5, 2012 Safety concerns, industry changes push U.S. to rethink approach to food inspection

Source: Washington Post

Every day, inspectors in white hats and coats take up positions at every one of the nation’s slaughterhouses, eyeballing the hanging carcasses of cows and chickens as they shuttle past on elevated rails, looking for bruises,...

March 2, 2012 New USDA 'Compass' Maps Support Local Meat and Poultry

Source: Food Safety News

The U.S. Department of Agriculture this week launched an interactive map showing USDA-supported projects helping local and regional food systems, including the recent focus on supporting small meat processors.

March 1, 2012 Japanese food shoppers haunted by radiation

Source: Khaleej Times

TOKYO — For Japanese shoppers, food safety was taken for granted until the Fukushima crisis. Now many have lost faith in government guarantees and fear that radiation could have contaminated their diet. Meltdowns at the nuclear...

February 29, 2012 Avoid high-risk foods, food-safety expert recommends

Source: Medicalxpress.com

It seems that hardly a week goes by without another reported case of some food being blamed for causing people to get sick. Most recently, a national restaurant chain's clover sprouts were linked to a Midwestern outbreak of...

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