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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 24, 2014 Food Safety in China Still Faces Big Hurdles

Source: NY Times

China has been scrambling to right its gargantuan processed-food ship ever since six infants died and thousands more were hospitalized with kidney damage in 2008 from milk adulterated with an industrial chemical.

July 24, 2014 Ethiopian coffee cooperatives getting a better deal for coffee farmers

coffeetea.ru - The movement began inâ60s Europe, and today îFairtrade Labelling Organizations Internationalî (FLO) is the most widely recognized fair trade certification system. FLO sets the minimum price per...

July 23, 2014 Fruit Recalled Nationwide For Possible Listeria Contamination

Source: Huff Post

California-based Wawona Packing Co. issued a voluntary recall on July 19 for certain types of peaches, nectarines, plums and pluots that were packaged and shipped between June 1 and July 12. The fruit is being recalled for...

July 23, 2014 The Factory in the China Food Scandal Is Foreign-Owned. That Could Have Made It a Target

Source: Time

No company should be allowed to get away with unsafe products, but the harsh spotlight shone on multinational enterprises in China could be part of an effort to undermine them in favor of local businesses

July 22, 2014 Beef toughest on environment, study says

Source: Columbus Dispatch

Raising beef for the American dinner table does far more damage to the environment than producing pork, poultry, eggs or dairy, a new study says. Compared with the other animal proteins, beef produces five times as much...

July 22, 2014 China food scandal spreads, drags in Starbucks, Burger King and McNuggets in Japan

Source: Reuters

The latest food scandal in China is spreading fast, dragging in U.S. coffee chain Starbucks, Burger King Worldwide Inc and others, as well as McDonald's products as far away as Japan. McDonald's Corp and KFC's parent Yum Brands...

July 21, 2014 USDA should implement long-overdue food-safety rules

Source: Portland Press Herald

As consumers, we take it for granted that the food we prepare for ourselves and our families is safe to eat. Unfortunately, all too often, it’s not. Every year, food-borne illnesses sicken 48 million Americans (or one out of...

July 21, 2014 Yum, McDonald's In Another China Food Safety Scandal

Source: Forbes

McDonald’s Corp. and Yum! Brand Inc. are ensnared in another food safety scandal in China. The two companies have suspended orders from a Shanghai meat supplier, while Chinese authorities investigate allegations that the company...

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...

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