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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 6, 2012 Raw Milk Debates Underway in Several States

Source: Food Safety News

The raw milk games are just getting underway in statehouses across America. Legislative sessions are annual opportunities to make changes in the crazy quilt that is raw milk regulation in this country, as the states all pursue...

February 6, 2012 The Sugar Tax: Is it a healthy step forward?

Source: Plus Size

At the beginning of this year France introduced the Sugar Tax in a bid to curb obesity. America have been talking about introducing something similar for some time and some authorities will not allow food tokens to be used to...

February 5, 2012 Minn. food company recalls about 1 million eggs in 34 states

Source: USA Today

MINNETONKA, Minn. (AP) – A Minnesota food company said Friday it is recalling more than a million hard-cooked eggs distributed to 34 states after testing revealed some may be contaminated with listeria.

February 3, 2012 Listeria risk in hard-boiled eggs spurs Michael Foods to widen recall

Source: The Republic

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnetonka-based Michael Foods has substantially widened a recall of hard-boiled eggs because of a potential for contamination with a dangerous strain of listeria. The recall involves more than 150,000 pounds of...

February 3, 2012 Reports link Taco Bells to 2011 multi-state salmonella outbreak

Source: LA Times

For days, the speculation has been rampant: Which Mexican food chain – only identified as “Restaurant Chain A” by federal investigators earlier this month -- was linked to a large salmonella outbreak late last year? This week,...

February 2, 2012 Sugar can harm like alcohol and tobacco, regulate it: article says

Source: LA Times

Move over salt. Step aside, saturated fat. There’s a new public enemy in the pantry, and it’s … sugar. In a provacative commentary coming out in Thursday’s edition of the journal Nature, Dr. Robert Lustig and two colleagues from...

February 1, 2012 Concerns grow over safety of food imports

Source: China Daily

BEIJING - Gao Pingping, a 30-year-old mother in East China's Anhui province, fed her 2-year-old son Meiji milk powder until the Japanese company announced that radioactive cesium was found in the product last December.

February 1, 2012 McDonald's: No More Pink Slime in Burgers

Source: NBC San Diego

Meals from McDonald's will no longer include "pink slime," an ammonium hydroxide solution used to kill bacteria. The Oak Brook, Ill.-based fast food chain said it would no longer use the controversial additive — which is...

January 31, 2012 Food Industry Tells Obama Administration: No Food Safety Fees

Source: Food Safety News

Leading food industry groups are urging the Obama administration to adequately fund federal food safety oversight, instead of seeking new taxes or regulatory fees.

January 30, 2012 New Poultry Inspection Will Make a Difference, FSIS Says

Source: Food Safety News

Philip Derfler, deputy administrator at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, touted the new proposed rule on poultry inspection last week at a Food and Drug Law Institute's conference. Under...

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