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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 17, 2012 US won't allow more fungicide in orange juice -FDA

Source: Reuters

The U.S. health regulator on Thursday declined a request by orange juice producers to allow a higher tolerance of a banned fungicide in juice imports, a decision that will force Brazil to stop exporting concentrated orange juice...

February 17, 2012 US-China to sign a 5-year agriculture pact to focus on food safety, security, sustainability

Source: Washington Post

DES MOINES, Iowa — Agriculture officials from the United States and China are gathering in Iowa to discuss ways to feed the world, and Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (shee jihn-ping) is seeing how local farmers help in that...

February 16, 2012 California Firm Recalls Meat & Poultry Products

Source: KTVN

AA Meat Products Corporation is recalling products because they may have been produced without a federal inspection.

February 16, 2012 Hidden Arsenic Found in Rice-Sweetened Organics

Source: ABC News

If you're shopping organic and see brown rice syrup listed first among ingredients, you may want to think twice: That product could have high levels of potentially toxic arsenic , Dartmouth researchers reported today.

February 16, 2012 Sizing Food Safety Regulations to Fit the Farm

Source: Food Safety News

Food safety issues and worries about food safety rose to a high level last year among farmers. The owner of one of the original small organic farms in my county asked me what lessons could be learned from the E. coli O104:H4...

February 16, 2012 Obama's budget cuts bacteria testing in produce

Source: Boston.com

SAN FRANCISCO—President Barack Obama's proposed budget would eliminate the nation's only program that regularly tests fruits and vegetables for deadly pathogens, leaving public health officials without a crucial tool used to...

February 16, 2012 1 in 4 children malnourished, global report says

Source: Boston.com

Five children around the world die every minute because of chronic malnutrition, according to a report released Wednesday that also said that almost half a billion children risk are at risk of permanent damage over the next 15...

February 15, 2012 FDA-Regulated Food Recalls Surged in Last Quarter 2011

Source: Food Safety News

Foods regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were recalled 50 percent more in the fourth quarter last year and affected over 80 percent more units when compared with the previous period, according to the...

February 14, 2012 FDA seeks food-safety funds after Colorado cantaloupe listeria outbreak

Source: Denver Post

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration wants a $220 million boost to its food-safety budget next year, citing a listeria outbreak from Colorado cantaloupe as primary proof the system needs work. The agency's request, highlighted...

February 13, 2012 Hot Water Bath Eliminates Pathogens on Cantaloupe

Source: Food Safety News

The 2011 outbreak of Listeria monocytogenesis in cantaloupe sparked a heightened level of interest in efforts to make cantaloupe safer, with fruit and produce trade associations developing safety guidelines and California...

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