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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
September 27, 2012 Students push back on new school lunchesSource: USA Today
Healthier school lunches, required for the first time this year, are getting some push back from students and teachers across the USA who say they are still hungry after eating the noon meal.
Source: Huf Post
If there's something we tend to take for granted, it's food safety. We hardly expect the bag of lettuce we buy at the supermarket, or the jar of peanut butter or the cantaloupe, to harm us. But 2012 has shown us that as consumers...
September 26, 2012 Peanut butter recall over salmonella expands to 76 productsSource: CBS News
New Mexico-based Sunland Inc. has expanded its recall to 76 types of peanut butter and almond butter after a product it sold to Trader Joe's groceries was linked to a salmonella outbreak. The company recalled the products under...
Source: Food Product Design
Three U.S. representatives on Friday planned to introduce legislation to limit the amount of arsenic that is permitted in rice and rice-based products following a Consumer Reports investigation that set off another alarm over...
September 24, 2012 Trader Joe's recalls peanut butterSource: LA Times
The grocery store chain Trader Joe's is recalling peanut butter that has been linked to 29 salmonella illnesses in 18 states. The Food and Drug Administration and the federal Centers for Disease Control said that the store's...
September 21, 2012 USDA: Imported Canadian beef may contain E. coliSource: The Seattle Times
Imported Canadian beef products distributed in Washington may be contaminated with E. coli according to a Public Health Alert the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today. The meat is often processed into other products...
September 21, 2012 Unusual coalitions clash over wind energy tax creditSource: Washington Post
The wind power industry boasts enviable political assets in its fight to preserve a prized tax benefit. Republican and Democratic governors trumpet the benefits of wind energy; industry officials can identify manufacturing jobs...
September 20, 2012 Consumer study finds high levels of arsenic in rice productsSource: WKOW.com
MADISON -- A new study is warning us to watch how much rice we eat. Consumer Reports says researchers found what they're calling "worrisome levels of arsenic" in rice products.
September 20, 2012 The environmental footprint of organic vs. conventional foodSource: Washington Post
This month, a new piece of evidence emerged on this issue, and the news was bad for organic agriculture. A report out of Stanford University found no consistent differences in nutritional content between organic and...
September 19, 2012 Study links chemical BPA to obesity in white childrenSource: LA Times
A study finds young whites with high levels of exposure to bisphenol A are more likely to be obese. For other ethnic groups, the link is weak.
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