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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
July 19, 2011 USDA Releases First Farm to School EvaluationSource: Food Safety News
Efforts to serve local food in schools are expanding nationwide, but creating a market between small farms and school districts still poses many challenges, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's first report on...
Source: Environmental Working Group
WASHINGTON, D.C.–The Environmental Working Group today released its groundbreaking Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change and Health, a powerful, multi-featured tool that allows both consumers and experts to understand easily how...
Japan is poised to impose a ban on shipments of cattle from Fukushima prefecture – the scene of its worst ever nuclear crisis – after discovering that meat containing abnormally high levels of radioactive caesium had been...
July 15, 2011 Food industry offers to police ads aimed at kidsSource: Boston Globe
In an answer to the government’s proposed guidelines for advertising junk food and sugary cereals to kids, the food industry today released its own plan to regulate itself without government intervention. The Children’s Food and...
Beef contaminated by radiation from Fukushima prefecture has been eaten by consumers in Japan, intensifying food-safety concerns and stoking criticism against a government testing program that checks only selected products. About...
July 14, 2011 Kids menus to be healthier at U.S. chainsSource: CBC News
At least 19 restaurant chains in the United States — including Burger King, Chili's, IHOP and Friendly's — said Wednesday that they will include healthier options on their children's menus. At least 15,000 restaurant locations...
July 13, 2011 Food Safety in the Obama YearsSource: Food Safety News
President Obama entered office amid one of the worst times for food safety. January through April of 2009 saw an extraordinary number of recalls and elevated levels of illness due to the hundreds of products that were...
July 12, 2011 Kenya: The Shocking Reality About GMOsSource: All Africa.com
Nairobi — The spectre of people developing new and strange allergies, indigenous seeds losing their genetic codes and disappearing altogether, farmers making bumper harvests -- or no harvests at all -- is in the air
Source: Food Poison Journal
After a lengthy trace back investigation, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) issued a press release last week on July 5, 2011 concluding that one lot of fenugreek seeds imported from Egypt and used to produce sprouts is...
July 11, 2011 Arizona man died from Europe E. coli infection, CDC saysSource: MSNBC
The death of an Arizona man and five other U.S. cases of severe E. coli infection were caused by the deadly food poisoning outbreak that has ravaged Europe, federal health officials confirmed Friday. The death of the man, who...
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