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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

July 8, 2016 U.S. GMO food labeling bill passes Senate

Source: Reuters

The U.S. Senate on Thursday approved legislation that would for the first time require food to carry labels listing genetically-modified ingredients, which labeling supporters say could create loopholes for some U.S. crops.

July 8, 2016 Chipotle's stock is down after claims of food-poisoning incidents in Manhattan

Source: Business Insider

Chipotle's stock is falling, after two tweets about another potential E. coli incident at the chain.

July 7, 2016 New Vermont GMO law creates uncertainty

m.durangoherald.com - Industry groups, including the Grocery Manufacturers Association, have sued to block the Vermont law, arguing that the labeling requirement amounts to compelled speech in violation of the First Amendment....

July 1, 2016 Health Buzz: Canned Foods Expose Us to More BPA, Study Says

Source: US News

The study, published in Environmental Research on Wednesday, says canned food consumption can expose our bodies to too much BPA. BPA is used in myriad consumer products to prevent metal corrosion and breakages and preserve the...

July 1, 2016 Uncertainties Loom as Vermont GMO Law Takes Effect

ABC News - They also say they don't want to end up with a patchwork of multiple state regulatory schemes. Industry groups including the Grocery Manufacturers Association have sued to block the Vermont law, arguing that the...

June 30, 2016 More Than 100 Nobel Laureates Demand Greenpeace End Anti-GMO Crusade

Source: Huff Post

A large group of Nobel laureates has accused Greenpeace of becoming anti-scientific fear mongers, as it called for the environmental group to end its campaign against genetically modified organisms.

June 24, 2016 Senators Reach Deal On National GMO Labeling Bill

Source: NPR

Just a week before a Vermont law kicks in requiring labels on food containing genetically modified ingredients, U.S. Senate agriculture leaders announced a deal Thursday that takes the power out of states' hands — and sets a...

June 23, 2016 Will the New Monsanto Doctrine Hijack Democracy in Epic Hawaii GMO Ruling'

The Huffington Post - Ronnie Cummins, the outspoken founder of the Organic Consumers Association, believes the Monsanto Doctrine is an appropriate legal characterization of what he calls "genetically modified democracy." Cummins...

June 22, 2016 Chick-fil-A is America's Top-Rated Fast Food Chain, Again: Survey

Source: NBC News

Americans now spend more money dining out than on groceries — and we generally like what we get for our money when we eat out, according to the new American Customer Satisfaction Index restaurant report released on Tuesday.

June 21, 2016 New crop varieties 'can't keep up with global warming'

Source: BBC

Crops yields around the world could fall within a decade unless action is taken to speed up the introduction of new varieties.

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