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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

April 13, 2016 Frozen vegetables recalled because of Listeria

Source: Food Safety News

Several other retail grocery chains have recalled certain Pictsweet brand frozen vegetables because of possible Listeria contamination from onions. Those retailers include Giant Food, Wegmans, Martin’s, Tops, Stop & Shop and Food...

April 8, 2016 Our wasted food is a huge environmental problem – and it’s only getting worse

Source: Washington Post

The more scientists study the issue of food waste — and its worrying implications for both the environment and global food security — the clearer it becomes how much of a problem it is. Now, new research is giving us a few more...

April 8, 2016 Food makers may reformulate due to GMO labeling

BROWNFIELD - The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) says food makers may have to reformulate their products to meet a mandatory GMO labeling standard. Michael Gruber, is GMA's Senior Vice President of federal affairs. He...

April 7, 2016 This War Over GMOs Could Change Your Grocery Shopping Forever

m.motherjones.com - A food-labeling requirement in Green Mountain State is now roiling the US Senate and the Department of Agriculture, and also has the Grocery Manufacturers Association, a deep-pocketed trade group representing...

April 7, 2016 War on BPA: Recent campaign is not the first go-round for Campbell Soup Co.

Plastics Today - 18, 2012, issue of Forbes magazine. It was written by contributor Jon Entine, a self-described skeptic who writes about science, public policy, media and NGOs. His article reveals â??what happens when...

April 1, 2016 Avoiding A Future Crisis, Madison Removed Lead Water Pipes 15 Years Ago

Source: NPR

It was a controversial move when Madison, Wis., decided to replace all its lead pipes in 2001. But that decision put the city ahead of the curve — allowing it to avoid the lead water contamination that is plaguing cities like...

April 1, 2016 U.S. environmental groups sue to overturn GMO salmon approval

Source: Reuters

U.S. health regulators are facing a lawsuit from a coalition of environmental organizations seeking to overturn the government’s landmark approval of a type of genetically engineered salmon to be farmed for human consumption.

March 31, 2016 Chipotle plans to open burger chain

Source: USA Today

Chipotle Mexican Grill said Wednesday it has applied for a trademark for "Better Burger" as part of a business diversification move to open a burger restaurant chain.

March 31, 2016 Dirty food factory’ (UK) forces Aldi biscuit recall

Source: Food Manufacture

Biscuits sold by Aldi and three other retailers have been recalled due to potential pest contamination, after being produced in “unhygienic conditions”.

March 30, 2016 Americans Want Fewer Politicians, More Sustainability In Our Dietary Guidelines

Source: Huff Post

A recent survey found that a majority of Americans don’t want politicians meddling in the creation of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the roadmap for health advice that’s updated every five years, and with which some...

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