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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
June 28, 2011 BPA exposure makes male mice less masculine, attractiveSource: CNN
Male mice who are exposed in the womb to bisphenol A, or BPA, a chemical compound found in some hard plastics and can linings, appear to be less masculine and less attractive to females once they mature, raising the possibility...
June 28, 2011 FDA : Keep Away From Evergreen Produce Brand SproutsSource: RTT news
A report released recently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that there has been no progress in containing salmonella infections during the past 15 years, and instead it has increased by 10 percent in...
The food crisis that’s left almost 1 billion people hungry around the world, may turn into a “permanent disaster,” endangering millions of lives, said Kofi Annan, former secretary general of the United Nations. “If countries...
June 27, 2011 British seed firm 'linked to French E. coli outbreak'Source: BBC News
News agency AFP said 10 people have been affected by E. coli in Bordeaux. It is thought a number of them had eaten rocket and mustard vegetable sprouts, believed to have been grown from seeds sold by Thompson and Morgan
June 27, 2011 China wrestles with food safety problemsSource: LA Times
From steroid-spiked pork to glow-in-the-dark meat to recycled cooking oil collected from sewers, a series of illnesses and scandals linked to tainted food has put officials on guard. But tougher measures have had little effect...
June 24, 2011 United releases tomato food safety metricsSource: Fresh Plaza
The United Fresh Produce Association announced today the release of the 2011 version of The Food Safety Programs and Auditing Protocol for the Fresh Tomato Supply Chain, more commonly referred to as the Tomato Metrics. The...
June 23, 2011 G20 grapples with speculation, food securitySource: AFP
PARIS — The world's top economies seek Thursday to reach a deal to boost food security by limiting market speculation seen as behind recent price spikes that have hit consumers' pocketbooks and sparked unrest.
June 23, 2011 As Germany Outbreak Ebbs, Questions LingerSource: Food Safety Ndews
After eight weeks, more than 3,700 illnesses and 40 deaths, Germany's E. coli outbreak is finally waning, but health officials and scientists around the world remain fixed on followup investigations and analysis, anxious to...
June 22, 2011 No Food Safety in These NumbersSource: NY Times
I’m eager to cover some curious and less depressing topics here — did you know Asian multi-millionaires are cornering the market on first-growth Bordeaux? — and equally eager to stop throwing mind-numbing numbers around. But as...
June 22, 2011 AMA: BPA to Speed Eating, Group Adopts New PoliciesSource: Medpagetoday
CHICAGO -- The American Medical Association has adopted a number of new policies, including one that recognizes that bisphenol A (BPA) interferes with human hormones, one that blasts the practice of competitive eating, and...
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