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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.
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, 2013 New meat labels tell consumers more, but at what cost'
Kansas City Star - Take a close look at the label on the meat you buy at the grocery store these days, and you might just learn something. Specifically, how that cut of meat actually travelled through the supply chain. You could...
December 17, 2013 American Academy of Pediatrics Warns Against Raw Milk
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December 12, 2013 Minnesota says raw milk makes more people sick than recognizedSource: LA Times
As the movement to relax regulations on raw milk seems to be gaining steam, health officials in Minnesota warned Wednesday that raw milk could be making more people sick than previously recognized, based on a 10-year study. They...
December 11, 2013 Is Eating Meat Bad for the Environment'
Suite101.com - According to a report by the îFood and Agriculture Organization of the United Nationsî (FAO), Livestockâs Long Shadow, livestock production is one of the major causes of the worldâs most...
December 11, 2013 Study Finds Just 1% Of Fast Food Kids' Meals Are Healthy
WIBW - (CBS) - Children who eat fast food may be hard pressed to find a healthy meal, according to a new report from the Yale îRudd Center for Food Policy and Obesityî. The new report, Fast Food FACTS 2013, looks...
December 10, 2013 Meat Industry Wins Right to Sell Filthy Ground Beef
Center for Science in Public Interest - The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Supreme Beef vs. USDA finds that the current law governing the safety of red meat doesnât permit the Agriculture Department (USDA) to...
Reuters - "The outbreak is continuing," USDA's îFood Safety and Inspection Serviceî said in a statement. An estimated 278 illnesses, mostly in California, were caused by strains of Salmonella Heidelberg. The chicken...
December 5, 2013 Chinese Authorities Block Visas for Food Safety Inspectors
The Epoch Times - Food safety inspectors could have their work cut out for them as chicken processing for the U.S. market opens in China. Aside from lack of manpower to inspect shipments when they arrive here in the United...
December 5, 2013 The Obama Administration's Meaty Gift to Big Chicken
Mother Jones - As for the traces of them that remain on supermarket chicken, "government agencies have not conducted ... What does firing inspectors and jacking up line speeds have to do with fighting salmonella' The timeline on...
December 5, 2013 USDA To Beef Up Salmonella Prevention Efforts
site.law360.com - Law360, New York (December 04, 2013, 6:28 PM ET) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture unveiled a new initiative on Wednesday aimed at combating deadly salmonella contamination linked to more than a million...
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