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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

February 29, 2012 Avoid high-risk foods, food-safety expert recommends

Source: Medicalxpress.com

It seems that hardly a week goes by without another reported case of some food being blamed for causing people to get sick. Most recently, a national restaurant chain's clover sprouts were linked to a Midwestern outbreak of...

February 29, 2012 Food Safety Official's Ties to Monsanto Spur Petition for Ouster

Source: Bloomberg

A top U.S. regulator’s ties to Monsanto Co. (MON), a maker of genetically modified food, are fueling an election-year recall push by consumer and public-interest groups flexing their clout on the Internet

February 28, 2012 When Should Recalls Be Made Public?

Source: Food Safety News

Among the list of food recalls in the Food and Drug Administration's weekly enforcement report from February 8, the agency published information on a Class I, farm-initiated recall of 228,360 pounds of curly leaf spinach due to...

February 27, 2012 Expanded record access will cut exposure to tainted food - FDA

Source: Food Production Daily

US food safety authorities will be given expanded access to food firm records under a new interim ruling – a move it hopes will prevent potentially harmful food entering the food supply and reaching consumers.

February 24, 2012 Food safety: Response team, targeted spending could improve current system, experts say

Source: Denver Post

Colorado should create a rapid-response team of farmers, university scientists and health workers to help with an investigation and get to a farm faster after a food-borne illness outbreak, experts at a state agriculture...

February 23, 2012 Shrimp's Carbon Footprint is Ten Times Higher Than Beef's

Source: Mother Jones

Shrimp lovers don't need to crash a fancy party to enjoy premium, seasoned-to-perfection shrimp," announced a Taco Bell press release last year. The chain was heralding its "Pacific Shrimp Taco," which featured a half-dozen...

February 23, 2012 Food safety and consumer organizations defend FDA’s Michael Taylor

Source: Food Narigator -USA

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and other consumer and food safety organizations have defended FDA deputy commissioner for foods Michael Taylor, who has been the target of a campaign calling for his...

February 22, 2012 Is 'Genetically Modified' the future of our food?

Source: Fox Reno

LAS VEGAS - The rise of genetically modified foods has put agriculture at a crossroads in Nevada and around the nation, and some believe it is also putting food safety at risk.

February 22, 2012 Raw milk causes most illnesses from dairy, study finds

Source: USA Today

Unpasteurized milk, touted as the ultimate health food by some, is 150 times more likely to cause food-borne illness outbreaks than pasteurized milk, and such outbreaks had a hospitalization rate 13 times higher than those...

February 21, 2012 Facts and fiction of food safety

Source: The Province

We all know that you have to cook pork until it's grey, that you can't leave any-thing with mayonnaise out for too long, and that a quick whiff tells you if food's gone bad. Except that each of those "facts" is wrong.

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