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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 3, 2017 What six things a Food Safety Lawyer does not eat

Source: Food Poison Journal

Unpasteurized milk, sometimes called “raw” milk, can be contaminated with bacteria, viruses and parasites.

March 31, 2017 McDonald's to switch to fresh beef in its Quarter Pounders

Source: USA Today

Hoping to bring back diners who left in droves in search of tastier food, McDonald's announced Thursday that it will start making one of its signature hamburgers, the Quarter Pounder, with fresh beef patties.

March 31, 2017 A new era of food transparency with Wal-Mart center in China

Source: Food Safety News

The food system has been changing since the dawn of time, but never more rapidly or dramatically as it has the potential to do so today. After countless millennia as hunter-gatherers and subsistence farmers and a century or so of...

March 30, 2017 'Human waste' found in Coca-Cola cans at Ireland Coke factory

Source: FOX

The grim find was made at the Knockmore Hill facility in Lisburn, Ireland — but Coca-Cola has confirmed that none of the products on sale at the moment are affected.

March 30, 2017 To Confront Child Mortality, Governments Must Prioritize Pollution and Food Sustainability

Source: Huff Post

High levels of infant mortality due to malnutrition and pollution are closely linked, as new research by the World Health Organization (WHO) and The Economist Intelligence Unit shows. Those countries with unsustainable...

March 24, 2017 Saudi Arabia halts Brazilian beef and poultry imports over food safety fears

Source: Reuters

Saudi Arabia has stopped beef and poultry imports from four Brazilian companies over concerns about food safety after accusations that individuals had been bribed to allow sales of rotten and salmonella-tainted meats.

March 23, 2017 The Cheerios bee rescue: Can corporations help save pollinators?

Source: CS Monitor

All over the world, bees are vanishing, but not just from the wild. The Cheerios cereal mascot, a cartoon honeybee named Buzz, has also disappeared from his usual position on cereal boxes around the United States.

March 22, 2017 Nestle, Mars vow to clean up pet food supply chains

Source: Reuters

Swiss food giant Nestlé SA and U.S. candy and pet food company Mars pledged on Thursday to take steps to ensure their pet food supply chains are free from human rights abuses and illegally caught seafood – in a move welcomed by...

March 20, 2017 Brazil president meets ministers, ambassadors over rotten meat

Source: Yahoo News

President Michel Temer was to hold crisis talks Sunday with his cabinet and foreign ambassadors over allegations that corrupt Brazilian producers have been selling rotten meat around the world for years.

March 15, 2017 Senators Want Food Safety Review When U.S. Firms Sold Overseas

Source: US News

Two U.S. senators from Midwestern states will introduce a bill on Tuesday that would require foreign companies buying U.S. food and agriculture firms to undergo a review aimed at ensuring the deal would not hurt U.S. food...

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