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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

January 7, 2016 Chipotle hit with federal subpoena over California norovirus outbreak

Source: Reuters

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc (CMG.N), under scrutiny for months over outbreaks of foodborne illness across several U.S. states, said on Wednesday it was served with a subpoena in a federal criminal probe linked to a norovirus case...

January 7, 2016 Study Finds That Weather Disasters Took a Heavy Toll on Crops

Source: NY Times

Droughts and heat waves wiped out nearly a tenth of the rice, wheat, corn and other cereal crops in countries hit by extreme weather disasters between 1964 and 2007, according to a new study

January 7, 2016 EPA says pesticide harms bees in some cases

Source: Salt Lake Tribune

Washington • A major pesticide harms honeybees when used on cotton and citrus but not on other big crops like corn, berries and tobacco, the Environmental Protection Agency found

January 7, 2016 Chinese farmers are illegally growing GMO corn: Greenpeace

Source: Reuters

Farmers are illegally growing genetically modified corn in China‘s northeast, said environmental non-profit Greenpeace on Wednesday, in a report that may generate further distrust of the government’s ability to ensure a safe food...

January 6, 2016 Nationwide beef recall

BROWNFIELD - The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service has announced a nationwide beef recall. Huisken Meat Company of Sauk Rapids, Minnesota is recalling nearly 90,000 pounds of beef products that may be contaminated with...

January 5, 2016 Weather, war threaten to leave millions more hungry in 2016 – aid agencies

Source: Reuters

Millions more people globally are facing the threat of severe food and water shortages in early 2016 as droughts and flood devastate crops and strain a humanitarian system already struggling to meet needs, aid agencies warned.

January 4, 2016 Food Safety Regulatory Forecast for 2016

Source: Food Safety News

It’s impossible to say what will be the big food safety story of 2016. The ultimate unpredictable is what foodborne outbreaks will dominate the headlines and how they may impact policy decisions

January 4, 2016 Consumers won’t know meat origin after US ends labeling law

Source: Washington Post

After more than a decade of wrangling, Congress repealed a labeling law last month that required retailers to include the animal’s country of origin on packages of red meat. It’s a major victory for the meat industry, which had...

January 3, 2016 How a freak blizzard wrecked Texas's dairy industry

Source: CNBC

Dairy farmers in Texas and New Mexico say consumers can expect a milk shortage, after winter storm Goliath killed more than 30,000 dairy cows last week.

December 31, 2015 The Year’s Top Ten Food Safety Stories

Source: Food Safety News

Here are the Top Ten food safety stories for 2015 as compiled by Food Safety News

Displaying results 31 to 40 out of 2569
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