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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

June 8, 2012 Harper Government Wants Tougher Food Safety Law for Canada

Source: Food Safety News

The federal government of Canada under Prime Minister Stephen Harper of the Conservative Party is pushing for a tough new food safety law with greater penalties for violators and more unified enforcement powers. Harper's...

June 7, 2012 Many Food Workers Keep Working While Sick, Survey Finds

Source: NPR

We've all probably been there, at work, feeling crummy, when we should be home in bed. Maybe we do it because we need the money, or we feel like we can't miss that super important meeting. But what if you work with food and...

June 6, 2012 USDA plans to let chicken plants run faster with fewer inspectors

Source: LA Times

USDA plan for chicken slaughterhouses would speed up production lines 25% and cut inspectors checking carcasses for defects as much as 75%, angering food safety advocates and plant workers.

June 6, 2012 Judge orders FDA to revisit decision not to ban some antibiotics in animal feed

Source: Washington Post

A federal court has ordered the Food and Drug Administration to revisit its decision not to ban the use of certain antibiotics in animal feed and criticized the agency for relying on industry to voluntarily limit the use of these...

June 6, 2012 Disney to banish junk-food ads from kid shows

Source: BusinessWeek

Disney says its programming will no longer be sponsored by junk food. The Walt Disney Co. said Tuesday that it will become the first major media company to ban such ads for its TV channels, radio stations and websites intended...

June 6, 2012 Nudge the U.S. Out of Its Obesity - Huffington Post

Source: Huff Post

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC), obesity rates have stampeded upward over the past two decades. Depressingly, the CDC estimates that more than one-third of U.S. adults and 17% of children are currently...

June 5, 2012 Safety of US fruits and vegetables reinforced

Source: SouthWest Farm Press

The release of the United States Department of Food and Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program results should reinforce to consumers that both conventional and organic fruits and vegetables are being grown in an extremely safe...

June 5, 2012 Lab warned of Salmonella risk before massive egg recall

Source: MSNBC

IOWA CITY, Iowa — An Iowa State University scientist found evidence that sick hens at farms owned by an Iowa egg producer were "almost certainly" laying eggs contaminated with salmonella months before one of the nation's largest...

June 4, 2012 Kraft risks being left out of recycling loop after rejecting EPR call - Food Production Daily

Source: Food Production Daily

The declaration by non-profit body As You Sow came after 25% of Kraft's investors called on the company to consider the option. But the firm countered by saying sustainability was a shared responsibility with players throughout...

June 4, 2012 Animal welfare groups, egg farmers reach chicken cage accord; but some say the sky is falling

Source: Washington Post

FRESNO, Calif. — The animal welfare advocates who gave egg-laying hens more room to roam on California farms are trying to expand chicken coops across the nation with an unlikely ally — a group that previously had been their...

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