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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 18, 2014 UN Body Unveils New Food Safety Standards

Source: RTT News

The United Nations body responsible for setting food safety standards has adopted guidelines to protect consumers worldwide, including setting out maximum levels of lead in infant formula and arsenic in rice.

July 18, 2014 USDA proposes rule to ensure retailers can track sources meats

Farm And Ranch Guide - WASHINGTON, July 16, 2014 â The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) îFood Safety and Inspection Serviceî (FSIS) today is proposing to require that all makers of raw ground beef...

July 17, 2014 USDA proposes ground-beef rule for retailers

MeatPoultry.com - WASHINGTON â Retailers will be required to keep detailed records of all materials used in ground beef, according to a proposal from the US Department of Agriculture's îFood Safety and Inspection...

July 11, 2014 China’s Food Safety Issues Worse Than You Thought

Source: Food Safety News

Food safety has always been an issue (in China) due to lack of knowledge about contamination and hygiene standards. Even in Beijing I can count on contracting food poisoning at least once a year, despite all my precautions. The...

July 9, 2014 Reps Urge USDA to Shut Down Foster Farms After Chicken Recall

Source: NBC News

Two members of Congress are calling on federal agriculture officials to shut down all Foster Farms poultry plants until a salmonella outbreak that has sickened more than 600 people is resolved.

July 6, 2014 California firm recalls chicken over salmonella fears

CNN - Foster Farms, based in Fresno, produced the chicken on March 8, 10 and 11, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's îFood Safety and Inspection Serviceî. It said the company shipped the products to...

July 5, 2014 Subway Cuts The Salt by 27 Percent, KFC Hikes by 10 Percent, Says Study

Waltham Patch - The nonprofit îCenter for Science in the Public Interestî says that the progress has been slow and inconsistent. The biggest reductions in sodium were posted by Subway, Burger King, and McDonald's, but...

July 2, 2014 COOL Retaliation Could Hurt U.S. Economy

National Hog Farmer - Time will tell what ruling is issued by the îWorld Trade Organizationî (WTO) regarding the United States Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL), but a coalition of U.S. industries wants to...

July 2, 2014 3 things food safety experts never eat

Source: Detroit Free Press

As a food safety scientist and creator of barfblog.com, Powell knows way too much about the dangers of undercooked meat to take chances on the barbecue. So he brings a food thermometer to every summer cookout. “I don’t get...

July 1, 2014 What is Food Security'

Potash Investing News - According to the îFood and Agriculture Organization of the United Nationsî, food production must double by 2050 in order to feed the global population at that time. However, crop yield growth...

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