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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

October 26, 2012 Cesium in fish off Fukushima suggests continued contamination from seabed or nuclear reactors

Source: Washington Post

TOKYO — Radioactive cesium levels in most kinds of fish caught off the coast of Fukushima haven’t declined in the year following Japan’s nuclear disaster, a signal that the seafloor or leakage from the damaged reactors must be...

October 26, 2012 Deaths Allegedly Linked to Monster Energy Drinks Are a PR Nightmare

Source: Daily Beast

Allegations that its highly-caffeinated drinks caused several deaths is a PR debacle for Monster Energy, which denies the claims. Can the company beat the bad press?

October 25, 2012 Report: Unsafe food putting lives at risk

Source: CNN

Washington (CNN) -- Despite sweeping reform of food safety laws intended to make what we eat less dangerous, the number of Americans falling ill or dying from contaminated food has increased 44% since last year, according to a...

October 24, 2012 XL Foods plant to reopen under CFIA's watch

Source: CBC News

The XL Foods meat processing plant in Brooks, Alta., will be allowed to resume operations immediately under enhanced Canadian Food Inspection Agency oversight, the agency says.

October 24, 2012 Organic food no better than conventional for kids, pediatricians say

Source: NBC News

If you’re buying organic foods for your kids because you think they’re more nutritious, you might want to think again. The nation’s pediatricians have weighed in on the issue for the first time, and they say that when it comes to...

October 16, 2012 CHAMBER VIEWS: Food safety is critical: Where does the responsibility lie'

Bristol Press - The most recognized by the public include the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Each has their own distinct focus. The...

October 15, 2012 Health roundup: Peanut product recall expands

Source: USA Today

A recall of nut products from New Mexico manufacturer Sunland, Inc. linked to salmonella has now expanded to include shelled and in-shell raw and roasted peanuts.

October 10, 2012 Is McDonald’s Serious About Making Beef Sourcing More Sustainable?

Source: Triple Pundit

I have a confession to make: For some time I was addicted to McDonald’s 2009 Road to Sustainability video clip, which highlighted the company’s achievements for that year. This clip has such a catchy tune that I just had to play...

October 10, 2012 Pepsi and Coke to Post Calories of Drinks Sold in Vending Machines

Source: NY Times

Big beverage makers including Pepsico and Coca-Cola are retooling their vending machines to let consumers know the number of calories in the drinks available to buy.

October 9, 2012 Canada - Canadian Parliament holds emergency debate on XL beef recall

Source: Meat Trade Newsday

Meattradenewsdaily (blog) - This followed the discovery at the start of last month by USDA Food Safety and Inspection Serviceî (FSIS) and later by CFIA officials of E. coli 0157: H7 bacteria contamination in several lots of...

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