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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

March 17, 2016 Disappointed with Senate Vote on Food Labeling Legislation

Southeast AGNET - Bailey, president and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association. GMA is committed to rolling up our sleeves to work with Chairman Roberts and Senator Stabenow so that the Senate can enact a bipartisan...

March 16, 2016 Chipotle says sales recovering, but down 26 percent in Feb.

Source: Washington Post

NEW YORK — Chipotle says sales were down 26 percent for February and that it expects to report a loss for the first quarter as it works to recover from a series of food scares.

March 16, 2016 Senate to Vote on GMO Food Labeling Bill

New York Times - Companies are worried that a label stating that a product contains genetically altered ingredients the Grocery Manufacturers Association estimates that more than 70 percent of products on store shelves contain...

March 10, 2016 Countries Don't Have Enough Food for Their People

bilbaoya.com - Government officials of Asia-Pacific region attended a regional conference by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) began in Malaysia Monday to discuss ways to tackle food security and...

March 10, 2016 Are GMOs Bad for the Environment'

ENVIRONMENTAL WORKING GROUP - In a recent interview for New York magazine's Grub Street, author and food activist Michael Pollan laid out why he believes that food containing genetically modified ingredients (GMOs) should be...

March 9, 2016 Locals eating radioactive food 30 years after Chernobyl: Greenpeace tests

Source: Reuters

Economic crises convulsing Russia, Ukraine and Belarus mean testing in areas contaminated by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster has been cut or restricted, Greenpeace said, and people continue to eat and drink foods with dangerously...

March 3, 2016 Are Pesticides Causing The Birth Defects In Brazil?

Source: Huff Post

Pesticides are unlikely to be directly involved in the Brazil birth defect issue. If they are, link is more likely indirect. By now, several groups in different countries have found Zika but not other known pregnancy-associated...

March 2, 2016 Study: Eliminating GMOs would hurt environment, economy

Source: UPI

Researchers at Purdue University simulated a GMO ban in the United States, and the outputs weren't positive. The scientists found lower crop yield would have negative environmental and economic consequences.

February 29, 2016 Guilty pleas filed in federal criminal fake cheese cases

Source: Food Safety News

An executive of defunct cheese companies that sold “real parmesan cheese” containing wood pulp instead of parmesan to stores nationwide for three years entered guilty pleas Friday for herself and the companies in federal criminal...

February 26, 2016 Animal feed is at the heart of grain sustainability

Environmental Defense Fund - I read author Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma and realized that our environment and the food we eat are one and the same. That's when a light went off that I wanted to focus a career on making...

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