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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

February 5, 2016 French law forbids food waste by supermarkets

Source: The Guardian

France has become the first country in the world to ban supermarkets from throwing away or destroying unsold food, forcing them instead to donate it to charities and food banks.

February 5, 2016 18 Times Whole Foods Got Into Big Trouble

MSN - The company agreed to pay an $800,000 settlement. In 2013, the company was sued (along with several other retailers) after a study by the Organic Consumers Association found high levels of a carcinogen called 1.4-Dioxane in...

February 4, 2016 Analysts: Chipotle faces long road to recovery

Source: Nation's Restaurant News

Wall Street analysts warned of a tough road ahead for Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. in reports on Wednesday despite attempts by company executives to focus on plans to entice customers back to restaurants with a “near zero” risk of...

February 1, 2016 CDC expected to declare end to Chipotle's E.coli outbreak as soon as Monday: WSJ

Source: Reuters

The E. coli outbreak that affected dozens of Chipotle Mexican Grill customers in nine states last year is expected to be declared over as soon as Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the...

February 1, 2016 Sustainable Seafood: Four Issues to Watch in 2016

Source: Triple Oundit

There’s enough going on in the seafood sector to fill a dozen trend lists — and in co-creating the program for the annual SeaWeb Seafood Summit, taking place Feb. 1–3 in Malta, we’ve probably considered every topic of...

January 28, 2016 Global health body under pressure to stop Zika virus

Source: Fox Health News

The World Health Organization will hold a special session on Thursday on the Zika virus as the U.N. agency comes under pressure for quick action against the infection linked to thousands of birth defects in Brazil that is...

January 28, 2016 Opponents of GMO Labeling Could Face Tough Penalties in Dark Money Case

Truth Out - Just weeks before Election Day, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), a trade group representing several of the initiative's corporate opponents, which became the...

January 28, 2016 Feed the World by Wasting Less Food

IEEE Spectrum - Food waste begins on the farm and doesn't stop on our dinner plates. But we can easily cut that waste in half.

January 27, 2016 6 things that one food safety expert refuses to eat

Source: CTV

If you live in Ontario, Quebec or Atlantic Canada, chances are you may have thrown out a packaged salad from your fridge this weekend due to yet another food safety recall.

January 26, 2016 This Food Safety Expert Says Chipotle Is 'Focused On Bulls**t'

Source: Huff Post

It’s been six months since the start of Chipotle’s food safety crisis -- a series of six outbreaks that have sickened at least 500 people.

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