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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

May 24, 2011 China: A Thousand Food Safety Crackdowns in 2011

Source: Food Safety News

Chinese authorities say they have solved over 1,000 severe food safety cases so far this year in a growing effort to combat a string of high-profile scandals. The latest crackdown, which focused on the use of clenbuterol, a drug...

May 23, 2011 Most Americans prepared to pay more to fund food safety, survey suggests

Source: Foof Navigator-USA

Most Americans would be prepared to pay more for food in order to fund new food safety measures, according to a survey conducted on behalf of Pew Charitable Trusts.

May 23, 2011 Coca Cola criticised over water recall

Source: NZ Herald

Coca-Cola Amatil has rewritten the way it recalls its products after it was pulled up by health authorities for the way it recalled its Pumped flavoured water that made 11 people sick over summer.

May 23, 2011 10 Things Fast Food Companies Won't Say

Source: Smart Money

"The toys are a very powerful enticement," says Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Some communities have banned toys from kids meals: San Francisco

May 20, 2011 Prevention is Key to the Success of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act

Source: NewsWire.com

Today, at an event hosted by the GW School of Public Health and Health Services, the Food and Drug Administration’s Deputy Commissioner for Foods, Mike Taylor, delivered a speech that focused on prevention as a core principle of...

May 19, 2011 Durbin Wants FDA to Regulate Food with Melatonin

Source: Food Safety

The marketing of melatonin-laced brownies to children was a just a local issue last week, but not anymore. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) Wednesday asked U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Margaret Hamburg to see if...

May 19, 2011 How gas drilling contaminates your food

Source: Salon

There's a stunning moment in the Academy Award-nominated documentary "Gasland," where a man touches a match to his running faucet -- to have it explode in a ball of fire. This is what hydraulic fracturing, a process of drilling...

May 18, 2011 Exploding Watermelons in Jiangsu Province Latest Sign of China's Food Safety Problem

Source: Treehugger.com

Farmers in China's eastern Jiangsu province awoke one morning earlier this month to a scene of agricultural carnage -- hundreds of exploded watermelons. More continued to burst throughout the next couple of days, ruining more...

May 17, 2011 What The FDA Ignored About Food Dyes

Source: The Patch

Last week I gave a talk to a group of mothers on how to make home-packed lunches for school that will power kids through the afternoon, Naturally a lot of what I shared was about what foods you should avoid, and that brought us...

May 17, 2011 Taco Bell, Other Fast Food Chains Ditch BPA laced Paper Receipts

Source: Triple Pundit

Yum! was already in the process of changing towards a BPA-free receipt paper when the advocacy group As You Sow notified the company about its plan to submit a shareholder resolution urging the company to cease use of ...

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