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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

December 10, 2015 What in the world is happening to Chipotle

Source: Washington Post

Last month, Chipotle closed 43 restaurants in Washington and Oregon after health authorities linked an E. coli outbreak to six restaurants in the area. The announcement came as a shock to adoring fans of the fast-food company —...

December 9, 2015 Chipotle sets goal of being leader in food safety

Source: NRN

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. plans to become the best in the world at food safety, company officials said Tuesday. In a presentation to Wall Street analysts at the annual Bernstein Consumer Summit in New York, officials with the...

December 9, 2015 $1 billion in tariffs will hurt struggling meat industry; experts call for repeal of COOL laws

The Tribune - Many industries will be affected by the World Trade Organization's ruling to allow just more than $1 billion in tariffs on U.S. exports to Canada and Mexico. Below is a list of U.S. goods that will be considered for...

December 8, 2015 International Case To Be Brought Against Monsanto for Health and Environmental Crimes

eNews Park Forest - The Organic Consumers Association (OCA), IFOAM International Organics, Navdanya, Regeneration International (RI), and Millions Against Monsanto, joined by dozens of global food, farming and environmental...

December 7, 2015 When The World Is Banana-Free, Will We Finally Understand The Importance Of Diversity In Agriculture'

The Inquisitr - Even diversity in livestock is becoming lost. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations...Up to 30% of global mammalian and avian livestock breeds (i.e., 1,200 to 1,500 breeds) are...

December 7, 2015 COOL Retaliation To Be Announced

Hoosier AG Today - The World Trade Organization will announce retaliation levels Monday over the mandatory country-of-origin labeling by the United States. Meanwhile, five Senate Democrats are urging for a resolution on COOL,...

December 4, 2015 WHO: Contaminated Food Deaths at 420,000 Annually, One-Third Are Young Children

HNGN - "The data we are publishing is only a very conservative estimate, we are sure that the real figure is bigger," Kazuaki Miyagishima, director of WHO's Department ... at 31 different foodborne diseases which are usually...

December 4, 2015 Home Depot to Phase Out Bee-killing Pesticides

Source: Enews

eNews Park Forest - Pesticide Action Network North America Planet Rehab, Save our Environment, Sierra Club, Smart on Pesticides Maryland, SumOfUs, Toxics Action Center, Toxic Free North Carolina, Turner Environmental Law Clinic...

December 3, 2015 Walmart, Sam’s Club and Target among stores included in massive food recall

Source: WQAD 8

A recall stemming from an E. coli scare spans more than a dozen states, including Illinois, and includes products sold at major grocery chains, including Walmart, Safeway and Albertsons.

December 1, 2015 The Salt Wars: Here Comes New York City's Next Food Fight

Bloomberg - That included the Bacon Turkey Bravo sandwich, which the Center for Science in the Public Interest had listed in September among the fast-food menu items with more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium. The chain, which...

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