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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

December 17, 2015 Exclusive: Philippine government to challenge ban on GMO imports ordered by top court

Source: Reuters

The Philippine government said it will challenge a ban on GMO imports ordered by the country's top court, after the ruling rattled global markets this week over the threat of disruption to millions of tonnes of soybean meal...

December 17, 2015 Walmart, Whole Foods, and Slave-Labor Shrimp

Source: The Atlantic

On Monday, a major AP investigation shook the seafood-loving public when it implicated several major American food purveyors with selling shrimp that had been peeled using slave labor in Thailand.

December 16, 2015 As Boston College Students Recover, Chipotle Enters the ‘Fiasco Vortex’

Source: Food Safety News

Except for one unpleasant aspect — the lingering diarrhea — norovirus is known for coming on fast and then quickly burning out. For at least 136 victims, almost all Boston College students, their 24 to 48 hours of burning...

December 16, 2015 Lettuce 'three times worse than bacon' for the environment, scientists claim

Source: Telegraph(UK)

Greenhouse gas emissions from lettuce production are three times higher per calorie than from bacon, study finds

December 15, 2015 Can we eat meat and still save the environment?

Source: CS Monitor

Estimates on greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and the global food production system looks grim for the future. However, there might be a way to keep the meat and help lower emissions.

December 14, 2015 Chipotle: The Long Defeat Of Doing Nothing Well

Source: Forbes

The title of this article, which was inspired by a line from poet John Masefield, seems apt: Chipotle, the once-popular Mexican restaurant chain, is experiencing a well-deserved downward spiral.

December 11, 2015 NY Officials Warn Consumers About Raw Milk Listeria Risk

Food Safety News - The public health warning came from the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets ... Pasteurization kills the bacteria responsible for numerous illnesses and diseases such as listeriosis, salmonellosis,...

December 11, 2015 Some Tropicana and Other PepsiCo Products to Carry Non-GMO Project Seal

New York Times - either directly or through the trade group the Grocery Manufacturers Association. Mr. Bernemann said PepsiCo felt that a national labeling law was needed. We are in favor of the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling...

December 10, 2015 How Hungry Will the World Be in 2080'

nextcity.org - In a recent op-ed in the Washington Post, food experts Debbie Barker and Michael Pollan wrote about agricultural techniques that reduce atmospheric carbon: The quest to wring every last dollar out of fields has put...

December 10, 2015 Everything you need to know about norovirus, the illness afflicting Boston College students

Boston - And the number of sick students keeps on growing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year in the U.S., norovirus causes 19 to 21 million cases of inflammation of the stomach or intestines...

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