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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
April 12, 2010 Durbin Proposes Food Safety Modernization ActSource: Food Poison Journal
Senate hearing on food safety legislation (SB 510) (Food Safety Modernization Act) will occur soon, maybe even next week. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and a group of colleagues have proposed the legislation in response to a number...
April 10, 2010 Food industry sees Senate move soon on safety billSource: DesMoines Register
The concerns of small farms notwithstanding, the Senate is expected to act soon on legislation that would give the Food and Drug Administration new authority to regulate growers and processors. Small-scale farmers have been...
April 9, 2010 U.S. needs more FDA food inspections: govt reportSource: Reuters
Federal inspectors are conducting fewer reviews of food manufacturing plants, with many facilities going more than five years without being checked, a government investigator said on Wednesday
The Organic Center, a research institute focused on the science of organic food and farming, recently revealed concerns for the state of the food industry and agriculture. Despite the symbolism of an organic garden at the White...
Source: Washington Post
The number of federal inspections of food-manufacturing facilities, and enforcement actions triggered by those inspections, has decreased, a government auditor reported Tuesday. Officials blamed the situation on inadequate...
April 6, 2010 UK Paper Finds BPA in Canned Food ProductsSource: Food Safety News
The Independent recently found that the vast majority of popular canned foods in the UK use the increasingly controversial chemical Bisphenol-A, otherwise known as BPA, in their packaging. BPA is an industrial chemical used to...
Source: BioMeds Reports
Late last week in Washington, D.C., the FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) hosted a joint public workshop on how best to measure...
April 2, 2010 Mande: A 'Watershed Moment' for Food SafetySource: Food Safety News
Citing "extraordinary commitment" from the White House to improve the food safety system, 400 experts met in Washington, DC Wednesday to discuss the best tools for measuring progress on food safety.
Source: Eat, drink and Be.org
A new report by The Alliance for Food and Farming identifies produce as the source of approximately 12 percent of foodborne illness outbreaks, linking 88 percent of outbreaks to meat and processed foods
March 31, 2010 Study Shows Misbranding of Frozen SeafoodSource: Food Safety News
Consumers are paying up to $23 per pound for ice when they purchase frozen seafood, a multi-state investigation led by Wisconsin Weights and Measures revealed. Many seafood processors add a coating of ice glaze to their frozen...
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