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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
January 28, 2011 New Food Safety Law Demands TraceabilitySource: JustMeans
The new federal food safety law is shaking up food regulation on many levels, not the least of which is food traceability. A piece of the new law requires that every piece of the country's food supply chain be accounted for....
January 28, 2011 U.S. farmers get approval to plant GMO alfalfaSource: Reuters
The United States said on Thursday farmers could proceed with planting genetically altered alfalfa without any of the restrictions that opponents say are crucial to protect organic and conventional farm fields from...
January 28, 2011 Taco Bell Fights Back on Beef Lawsuit With Ad PushSource: ABC News
The fast-food chain is running full-page print advertisements in several national major papers and online ads Friday to "set the record straight," it says. The ads say, in huge letters, "Thank you for suing us. Here's the truth...
Source: PR NewsWire
Following notification from its supplier, State Garden, Giant Food of Landover, Md. has announced a voluntary recall of several Nature's Promise organic bagged salad items due to the potential for listeria contamination. All...
January 26, 2011 Hagen Outlines Antibiotic Use, STEC StrategiesSource: Food Safety News
The Food Safety and Inspection Service will focus on being "one step ahead" of Shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC) and antimicrobial-resistant pathogens, Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, Under Secretary for Food Safety at the U.S....
January 26, 2011 Taco Bell says its beef mixture is seasoned meatSource: BusinessWeek
Taco Bell officials deny claims made in a lawsuit that the meat in their tacos and other products is not all beef. Taco Bell President Greg Creed said Tuesday in a statement that the lawyers who filed the lawsuit got their...
January 25, 2011 Food Safety Law Sparks ‘Gold Rush’ for Tech FirmsSource: Fair Warning.com
To curb outbreaks of foodborne illnesses, the federal food safety overhaul signed into law this month calls on farmers and processors to help the government keep track of their products. The aim is to enable authorities to more...
January 24, 2011 The rush is on to make food traceableSource: Washington Post
In response to a new federal food safety law and growing consumer interest, vast amounts of new data are being generated about the complicated path that food takes from field to supermarket shelf.
January 21, 2011 Walmart Plans Major Healthy Changes For Stores, ConsumersSource: Conmsumer Affairs.com
In what could potentially be the first major step in battling the obesity epidemic, Walmart, the nation’s largest grocer, has announced a comprehensive plan to provide its customers with healthier and more affordable food...
January 20, 2011 Exclusive: U.S. shoppers wary about China food safety: surveySource: Reuters
As the United States implements a new law aimed at strengthening oversight of the food consumers eat, shoppers worry about the safety of products imported from China, Mexico and Africa.
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