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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

June 24, 2015 China Seizes Rotting 40-Year-Old Meat Destined for Dinner Tables

Source: Time

China has found itself embroiled in another food safety scandal after authorities discovered 100,000 tons of smuggled frozen meat—some of which was over 40 years old and had begun to thaw—apparently destined for sale and...

June 23, 2015 7 reasons you should throw your chicken dinner in the garbage

Salon - It is a monster version of salmonella, some strains of which are resistant to seven antibiotics, says Christopher Braden, director of the Centers for îDiseaseî Control and Prevention îdivisionî...

June 22, 2015 Consumers feel the pain as bird flu outbreak causes egg prices to soar

Source: Times Free Press

As of this week, more than 200 chickens nationwide have been positively diagnosed with H2N5 avian flu, but precautionary measures have led farmers and government officials to kill nearly 50 million chickens and turkeys to stop...

June 22, 2015 EDITORIAL: Consumers have right to know where their food comes from

Big News Network - Itâs often right on the label.Foreign growers and packers, not so much. Sometimes they donât want the shopper to know where it comes from. This week the îWorld Trade Organizationî is >...

June 19, 2015 Canada, United States enter abritration over ag product labeling

Leader Advertiser - On Tuesday, the United States Trade Representative formally triggered an arbitration process with Canada regarding country of origin labeling (COOL) at the îWorld Trade Organizationî (WTO). The...

June 19, 2015 Here's the skinny on trans fats

One News Now - Stier "People found out that maybe they're not as good as we once thought they were," says Stier, who says trans fats replaced saturated fats after the îCenter for Science in the Public Interestî...

June 18, 2015 Egg prices soar as avian flu spreads throughout the Midwest

Examiner - CDC, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), World Health Organization (WHO), World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), and îFood and Agriculture Organization of the United Nationsî (FAO) conduct...

June 18, 2015 FDA To Food Companies: This Time, Zero Means Zero Trans Fats

ww2.kqed.org - And many food companies stopped using the substance in anticipation of the FDAâs ban. The îGrocery Manufacturers Associationî says the food industry has already reduced its use of trans fats by...

June 17, 2015 FDA bans hydrogenated oils from American food supply

Source: LA Times

In a final move to ban trans fats from the American food supply, the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday removed hydrogenated oils from its list of food additives that may be used by food manufacturers without special...

June 17, 2015 GMO Ban Off to Bumpy Start in Oregon’s Jackson County

Source: Food Safety News

In reality, the ordinance could qualify as a “regulatory taking” under the U.S. Constitution, meaning that local taxpayers may have to pay farmers with genetically modified crops $4.2 million. Until they know their exposure on...

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