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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

July 29, 2011 Billboard warns hot dogs are as risky as cigarettes; Meat industry disagrees

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 informers

Source: 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 scare

Source: 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 Outbreak

Source: 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 Meal

Source: 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 ...

July 22, 2011 USDA proposes rule to enhance poultry and meat content labelling

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

July 21, 2011 FDA program seeks to prepare industry for food safety crises

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...

July 20, 2011 Consumer group chews out restaurants for unhealthy menus

Source: Kansas City Star

A burger topped with smoked pork belly and fried eggs. Meatballs stuffed with provolone. Grilled cheese sandwiches stuffed with deep-fried mozzarella sticks. These are some of the “dishonorees” in the Center for Science in the...

July 19, 2011 USDA Releases First Farm to School Evaluation

Source: Food Safety News

Efforts to serve local food in schools are expanding nationwide, but creating a market between small farms and school districts still poses many challenges, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's first report on...

July 18, 2011 EWG Meat Eater’s Guide Spotlights Meat’s Outsize Carbon Footprint

Source: Environmental Working Group

WASHINGTON, D.C.–The Environmental Working Group today released its groundbreaking Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change and Health, a powerful, multi-featured tool that allows both consumers and experts to understand easily how...

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