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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
January 9, 2012 Food Industry Concerned About EPA's Dioxin LimitsSource: Food Safety News
The food industry is worried a new Environmental Protection Agency proposal on dioxin, a group of toxic chemicals, could deem the average American diet dangerous. After several years of deliberation, and a draft proposal, the EPA...
Source: NY Times
The Mission District’s Italian eatery Delfina has been considered one of the Bay Area’s best restaurants for more than a decade; Craig Stoll, its co-owner and chef, won a coveted James Beard award in 2008.
January 6, 2012 California cantaloupe farms regroup after listeria outbreakSource: LA Times
California's Central Valley is 1,300 miles from the Colorado farm linked to a deadly listeria outbreak. But that hasn't registered with the public. Cantaloupe growers hope to change that
January 5, 2012 U.S. Impacted by China Food Safety ConcernsSource: New American
China has been hit once more by a food safety crisis, as officials in that country attempt to assure its own people, as well as consumers in the United States and elsewhere, that its products are safe. The Chinese government’s...
January 4, 2012 FDA sued over lack of nanotech petition responseSource: Food Navigator
A coalition of consumer advocacy groups has filed a lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), demanding that it respond to a 2006 petition to require labeling of nanotech ingredients in consumer products, and extra...
January 3, 2012 Annual Foodborne Illnesses Cost $77 Billion, Study FindsSource: Food Safety News
Foodborne illness poses a $77.7 billion economic burden in the United States annually, according to a new study published in the Journal of Food Protection. The new estimate is significantly lower than the oft-cited $152 billion...
January 3, 2012 Green Valley Listeria sprout recall grows to over 35,000 casesSource: Food Poison Journal
Green Valley Food Corp. is recalling approximately 35,159 cases of a variety of products because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. Random samples tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes,...
January 2, 2012 CDC, FDA say 4 cases of bacterial infection in babies not related, infant formula not taintedSource: Washington Post
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Four cases of infants sickened by a rare bacteria sometimes linked to powdered formula, including two who died, are not related and parents can continue using the products to feed their babies, two federal...
January 2, 2012 Organic Agriculture May Be Outgrowing Its IdealsSource: NY Times
TODOS SANTOS, Mexico — Clamshell containers on supermarket shelves in the United States may depict verdant fields, tangles of vines and ruby red tomatoes. But at this time of year, the tomatoes, peppers and basil certified as...
December 30, 2011 Food Makers Told Not to Change Routines for Listeria TestsSource: Food Safety News
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has told producers of ready-to-eat foods not to veer from their regular manufacturing, sanitation and food-safety procedures when federal inspectors...
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