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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 20, 2018 Dead Carcasses and Rodents Found at Farm Behind Massive Salmonella Egg Recall

Source: Fortune

Before a U.S. farm voluntarily recalled 207 million eggs, government inspectors found rodents scurrying in manure pits, equipment that was coated with grime and food debris, and outside a swarm of “large flying insects too...

April 19, 2018 More illnesses reported in E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce

Source: CNN

About 53 people have been reported sickened in 16 states since March 13, the CDC said. Thirty-one of those ill have been hospitalized. Five of them developed a type of kidney failure associated with an E. coli illness called...

April 16, 2018 22 illnesses prompts largest shell egg recall since 2010

Source: Food Safety News

Rose Acre Farms of Seymour, IN late Friday recalled 206,749,248 eggs because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella Braenderup, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young...

April 16, 2018 Here are the latest recalls and updates from the current E. coli outbreak

Source: Miami Herald

The Centers for Disease Control said it has traced the problem to a romaine lettuce supplier in Yuma, Arizona. The agency recommends that households throw out the romaine lettuce and that diners refrain from romaine lettuce in...

April 16, 2018 Wealthy Americans know less than they think they do about food and nutrition

Source: PBS

Socioeconomics play a significant role in attitudes about food – especially concerns about safety and purchasing behavior. And higher income doesn’t always correlate with informed choices. On the contrary, our research shows that...

April 12, 2018 Investigation underway in multistate E. coli outbreak

Source: CNN

Health officials are working to find the source of an E. coli outbreak that has sickened 17 individuals in seven states over the past four weeks. Six of those infected have been hospitalized.

April 11, 2018 These fruits, vegetables grown in Indiana are on 'Dirty Dozen' list of produce with most pesticides

Source: INDY star

At the top of the "Dirty Dozen" list are strawberries, spinach and nectarines. And several items commonly grown in Indiana — including tomatoes, apples and potatoes — also find themselves on the report's "Dirty Dozen."

April 4, 2018 The FDA Has Issued Its First-Ever Mandatory Recall — For Kratom

Source: Buzzfeed

Las Vegas–based Triangle Pharmanaturals "refused to cooperate with FDA," the agency said, even though its products are contaminated with salmonella. About 87 people in 35 states have gotten sick from salmonella bacteria, and 27...

April 2, 2018 California ordered to add cancer warning to coffee, but the science doesn’t hold up

Source: Washington Post

Storm clouds are brewing in California’s coffee cups. Companies across the state will have to add a cancer-warning label to coffee, a judge ruled this week, because the drink contains a chemical called acrylamide.

March 29, 2018 Ugly ducklings—the dark side of plastic materials in contact with potable water

Source: Nature

Bath toys pose an interesting link between flexible plastic materials, potable water, external microbial and nutrient contamination, and potentially vulnerable end-users. H

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