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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

April 29, 2015 Bird flu epidemic becoming critical

Source: Agri-View

Wisconsin’s poultry farms are under a state of emergency, declared this past week by Gov. Scott Walker. National Guard forces are helping as avian flu spreads. As of late Tuesday, yet another Wisconsin turkey flock had been...

April 29, 2015 Botulism Cases Rising: What You Need to Know

HNGN - Here are some facts you need to know. The information is culled from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's îFood Safety and Inspection Serviceî. The disease is caused by a rod-shaped bacteria called the...

April 29, 2015 Why Tyson antibiotic-free chicken is a bigger deal than GMO-free Chipotle

Source: CS Monitor

As consumers become increasingly mindful of what goes into their food, the race to win them over has kicked into high gear among America’s restaurants and food suppliers. In terms of perception, the two companies that have made...

April 28, 2015 Here's why beef's opponents have got it wrong (Guest column)

MLive - A îUnion of Concerned Scientistsî report concluded that only about 2 percent of U.S. greenhouse gases can be linked to cattle, and that good management would lower it further. A growing body of research even...

April 28, 2015 Bird flu spreads north, dooming millions of chickens and turkeys

Source: Kansas City Star

Creeping north with the spring migration of waterfowl, a highly contagious form of bird flu visited Missouri and Kansas before dooming millions of hens recently at an Iowa egg facility.

April 28, 2015 Tyson Foods plans to cut human antibiotics in U.S. chicken flocks by 2017

Source: Reuters

Tyson Foods Inc, the largest U.S. poultry producer, plans to eliminate the use of human antibiotics in its chicken flocks by September 2017 – one of the most aggressive timelines yet set by an American poultry company.

April 28, 2015 Lesson from Blue Bell recall: producers should 'assume food is not safe'

Source: The Guardian

An outbreak of listeria that has been linked to three deaths and forced a popular ice cream from store shelves across the central US may have begun as far back as 2010, according to experts.

April 27, 2015 Over-consumption, climate change threaten food security, water supply: FAO

interaksyon.com - By 2050 some 60 percent more food will be needed to feed the world's people and as farming remains the largest user of water, food must be produced sustainably to ensure future supplies of food and water, the...

April 27, 2015 Consumer Reports: Tests Find 60 Percent of Frozen Shrimp Contaminated With Bacteria

Source: Food Safety News

A new Consumer Reports (CR) study released Friday found that 60 percent of 342 samples of frozen shrimp it tested contained Salmonella, Vibrio, Listeria, or E. coli, and 2 percent tested positive for the superbug MRSA...

April 24, 2015 Minnesota declares state of emergency over bird flu in poultry

Source: Today

Minnesota declared a state of emergency yesterday (April 23) over a fast-spreading strain of avian flu that has led to the extermination of more than 7.3 million birds in the country. It followed Wisconsin's action on Monday.

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