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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

March 8, 2011 White Paper: Strong FDA is Good for the Economy

Source: Food Safety News

The Alliance for a Stronger FDA, an advocacy group made up of medical and food industry groups, released a white paper Monday examining the "far-reaching and positive" economic impact that a strong, well-funded U.S. Food and Drug...

March 8, 2011 Packaging From Recycled Cardboard May Transfer Unsafe Levels Of Mineral Oil

Source: Medial News Today

Concerns that foods packed in material made of recycled cardboard may contain mineral oil above agreed limits are causing some food companies to change their packaging material, and in one UK company's case, to stop using...

March 7, 2011 China on Food Safety

Source: Time Magazine

As the National People's Congress kicks off in Beijing, Chinese leaders' priorities for the nation were rolled out over the weekend in the 11th five-year plan (2011-2015). Among those priorities, which include pledges to...

March 7, 2011 Plastic's New Frontier: No Scary Chemicals

Source: National Public Radio

Some businessmen and scientists in Austin, Texas, are trying to change the way consumers think about plastic. They say it's not enough to buy a water bottle or sandwich bag that's free of BPA, the chemical consumer groups have...

March 4, 2011 China Threatens Death Penalty for Food Safety Violations

Source: Fast Company.com

China is beefing up its food safety laws in light of melamine-tainted milk and other scandals, and the country is now considering the death penalty for such offenders. The move isn't strictly about protecting public health--it's...

March 4, 2011 Privatized Meat Inspection: An Import U.S. Consumers Can’t Afford

Source: NorthCentralPA.com

Washington, D.C. – National consumer organization Food & Water Watch today objected to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (FSIS) Federal Register Notice (76-FR- 11752 — 11755) that gives a green light to a privatized...

March 3, 2011 Closer scrutiny of US food imports promised

Source: Food Navigator USA

Exporters to the US and domestic importers can expect much closer scrutiny of their food safety controls, following the signing of the Food Safety Modernization Act by President Barack Obama in January. The Act, which was...

March 3, 2011 World Food Prices Rise to Record on Dairy, Grains, UN Says

Source: BusinessWeek

World food prices climbed to a record in February on surging dairy, grain and meat costs, the United Nations said. An index of 55 food commodities rose 2.2 percent to 236 points from 230.7 in January, the eighth straight gain,...

March 2, 2011 GAO Report Calls for Single Food Safety Agency

Source: Food Safety News

In a sweeping report on how to carve as much as $200 billion out of the federal government, the General Accountability Office (GAO) says there should be just one federal food safety agency, even if consolidating the now...

February 28, 2011 Food Safety Regulations Tightening Across the Globe says EAS

Source: Food Ingredients First

The European Union’s (EU) continued strengthening of its food safety regulation and the United States’ (US) recent adoption of a new Act on food safety, shows a trend towards heightened food safety awareness globally.

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