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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
November 23, 2010 Why Food Safety Advocates are Throwing Small Farmers Under the BusSource: Ari Levaux, Faster Times
Produce, milk, meat, eggs, nuts, and all manner of processed foods have made people sick in recent years, and Congress has been understandably itching to cook up a big pot of food safety legislation. The result, Senate Bill 510,...
November 23, 2010 Opposing view on food safety: Leverage the free marketSource: Tom Coburn, USA Today
America has the safest food supply in the world, and it has never been safer. The rates of food-borne illness have been declining for more than a decade. Still, tragic outbreaks do occur and government can take common-sense steps...
November 22, 2010 What's on your plate? Canada lags in tracing food for safety and profitSource: Globe and Mail
Have you ever wondered about the story behind your steak? What about the precise GPS co-ordinates of the orchard your apple came from, or how long ago the “fresh” seafood at your grocer was actually plucked from the sea
November 22, 2010 Cadmium, lead found in drinking glassesSource: AP
LOS ANGELES — Drinking glasses depicting comic book and movie characters such as Superman, Wonder Woman and the Tin Man from "The Wizard of Oz" exceed federal limits for lead in children's products by up to 1,000 times, according...
November 19, 2010 Small farms would be exempt from food safety regsSource: AP
WASHINGTON (AP) — Some small farms would be exempt from government efforts to prevent foodborne illness under a Senate agreement on food safety legislation announced Thursday. The food safety bill now pending in the Senate would...
November 18, 2010 Chemical Industry to Nation's Infants and Toddlers: Suck It (Up) - BPASource: SwitchBoard - National Resources Defense Council Blog
In the major food safety legislation that the Senate is debating, which will likely pass today or tomorrow, one important provision will probably be missing: a ban on bisphenol A (BPA) in baby bottles or sippy cups. The...
November 18, 2010 Animal Abuse, Food Safety Threats Discovered at Egg FarmSource: 39 Online - TX
HOUSTON — The Humane Society of the United States was in Houston Wednesday to announced results of its latest undercover investigation of the largest egg producer in the nation -- Cal-Maine Foods. An investigator spent time at...
November 18, 2010 In rare bipartisan display, Senate advances food safety billSource: LA Times
WASHINGTON — A long-stalled food safety bill advanced in the Senate Wednesday, drawing unusual bipartisan support in the wake of an egg recall that was the largest in U.S. history, ordered because of contamination that sickened...
Source: Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned four companies that the caffeine added to their malt alcoholic beverages is an “unsafe food additive” and said that further action, including seizure of their products, is possible...
November 17, 2010 Local Food Advocates Target Food Safety BillSource: National Public Radio
A far-reaching food safety bill that could give the government more power to prevent foodborne illnesses has become a target of advocates for buying food produced locally
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