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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

February 23, 2015 Caramel coloring in cola drinks raises risks of cancer – Study

Source: Times Gazette

The chemical process generated while producing the caramel coloring used in most cola drinks has been found to raise the risks of cancer for one in every 100,000 people that consume the drink – a new research states.

February 23, 2015 Food prices continue to fall, spurred by cheap oil and abundant supply ' UN

Big News Network - 5 February 2015 - Global food prices have continued to plummet, aided by a weak euro and the low cost of crude oil, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported today in its monthly Food...

February 20, 2015 Huge Food Recall After Peanut Traces Found in Cumin

Source: Web MD

A huge recall of products that contain cumin spice possibly contaminated with peanut has been ongoing in the United States since December, and the Food and Drug Administration is warning people with peanut allergy to avoid cumin...

February 19, 2015 Popular Soda Ingredient Poses Cancer Risk to Consumers

News Wise - The research was supported by îConsumers Unionî, Grace Communications Foundation, and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (1K01HL096409). > 1862

February 18, 2015 Hershey, Mars face lawsuit for not labeling candy as containing lead, cadmium

The Week Magazine - Consumer advocacy group îAs You Sowî has sent legal notices to Hershey, Mars, and See's Candies. The group claims the confectioners have violated California's Proposition 65 law by not labeling...

February 18, 2015 Baby Ruth, Butterfinger and Crunch are going natural

Source: Washington Post

The Swiss candy company Nestle says it’s removing unnatural flavors and colors from products in the United States as consumers crave more organic sweets

February 17, 2015 'Climate change hampering world food production'

Source: New Vision

The acceleration climate change and its impact on agricultural production means that profound societal changes will be needed in coming decades to feed the world's growing population, researchers at an annual science conference...

February 17, 2015 Where is safety net for imported food

Source: Daily Telegram

AUSTRALIA’S fresh produce is the envy of many throughout the world. International chefs rejoice whenever they have the opportunity to use fresh Australian meat, dairy, seafood or fruit and vegetables.

February 17, 2015 Message about sugar-packed soft drinks gets through at last, says nutritionist

Source: The Age

The world's biggest beverage company has turned its focus to coconut water, energy drinks and low sugar soft drinks as Australians heed health warnings about sugar-packed soft drinks. Coca-Cola Amatil posted its lowest profit in...

February 16, 2015 How NAFTA Changed American (And Mexican) Food Forever

North Country Public Radio - If you were to try and list the biggest game-changers for the American food system in the last two decades, you might note the Food Network, or the writing of îMichael Pollanî, or maybe...

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