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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

May 27, 2015 Canada to test India feed corn imports due to mould concerns

Source: Reuters

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said on Tuesday it has started to detain imports from India of corn for feeding livestock to allow for testing of aflatoxins.

May 26, 2015 Poultry producers air concerns about gov’t response to bird flu

Source: Radio Iowa

Some of the Iowa poultry producers who’ve had to kill their birds because their flocks have been hit by avian flu say they can’t get consistent answers from state and federal officials as to when they can put birds back in their...

May 22, 2015 Sanderson sees no alternatives to antibiotic use in chicken production

Source: Reuters

Sanderson Farms Inc, the third largest U.S. poultry producer, plans to continue using antibiotics on its birds partly because there are no alternatives on the horizon for treating a deadly but common gut disease, Chief Executive...

May 22, 2015 Exclusive: Iowa bird-flu farms fall short on containment measures

Source: Reuters

Measures to control the worst bird flu outbreak in U.S. history are not being enforced at several farms at its epicenter in northwestern Iowa, potentially increasing the risks that the disease could spread further, spot checks by...

May 21, 2015 Food inspectors order recall of Maggi noodles, say found excess lead

Source: Reuters

Food inspectors have ordered Nestle India (NEST.NS) to recall a batch of Maggi noodles from shops across the country, saying the product contained dangerous levels of lead.

May 21, 2015 How an American With a Knack for Math Saved India From Famine

Source: Bloomberg Business

Lester Brown has spent his career making shrewd projections about the food, water, and energy people need to survive, and pushing governments to respond. None of this math brings tears to his eyes except the time in 1965 he made...

May 21, 2015 Avian Flu Outbreak Takes Poultry Producers Into Uncharted Territory

Source: NCPR

An avian flu outbreak is sweeping across the Midwest at a frightening pace, ravaging chicken and turkey farms and leaving officials stumped about the virus's seemingly unstoppable spread.

May 20, 2015 U.S. FDA considers expanding tests for drug residues in milk

Source: Reuters

U.S. health regulators are reviewing current standards for assessing drug residues in milk sold to consumers, a move that could expand testing for veterinary drugs at a time of growing consumer concern over food safety, health...

May 19, 2015 Shoppers Could Soon Have Difficulty Finding Meat's Origin

Source: ABC News

The World Trade Organization ruled Monday that U.S. "country of origin" labels on certain cuts of red meat put Canadian and Mexican livestock at a disadvantage, rejecting a U.S. appeal after a similar WTO decision last year. The...

May 19, 2015 FDA unaware of listeria in Blue Bell plant before deadly breakout

Tuscaloosa News - âIt certainly has taken far too long to get this done, and these outbreaks are the result,â said Christopher Waldrop, director of the Food Policy Institute at the îConsumer Federation of...

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