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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

August 4, 2020 Researchers collaborate on a strategy for sustainable aquaculture, the world's fastest growing food sector

Source: Phys

As the population grows, and the global standard of living improves, humanity's appetite for seafood is increasing. In 2020 seafood consumption reached an all-time high, with an average of 20kg consumed annually by every person...

August 3, 2020 Vital Farms’ Blockbuster IPO Proves Wall Street Has An Appetite For Sustainable Farming

Source: Forbes

As investors rushed to pick up shares of Vital Farms just a few minutes after it started trading on Friday afternoon, founder Matt O’Hayer took a moment to share what he’s learned about scaling his pasture-raised egg company from...

August 3, 2020 Marine Stewardship Council Sustainability Certification Suspension Amidst Sustainable Management of Fishery

Source: Manchester Times

The certificate suspension is occurring despite continued sustainable management of the Maine lobster fishery and remains the direct result of NOAA’s 2014 biological opinion on the impact that lobster fishing has on right whales.

July 30, 2020 Once-in-a-lifetime' opportunity for more sustainable food

Source: Yahoo News

An independent review of UK food policy is calling for "a gold standard level of scrutiny" to ensure new trade deals do not undermine the environment.

July 30, 2020 Before COVID-19, U.S. fishing years marked by milestones in sustainability

Source: Phys

Scientists find that the vast majority of U.S. fish stocks continue to be strong, successful and achieving long-term sustainability goals.

July 29, 2020 FAIRR: Unilever and Tesco named sustainable protein ‘pioneers’

Source: Food Navigator

The FAIRR Investor Network has named Tesco and Unilever protein ‘pioneers’ as food giants ‘muscle in’ on the booming alternative protein market.

July 28, 2020 Raise a toast to sustainability

Source: Innovator Magazine

Tristram Stuart is tomorrow’s guest on Inside Ideas. Tristram is the founder of Toast Ale, a company that has featured many times on these pages for its innovative work in producing award-winning craft beer from bread that would...

July 27, 2020 Hill-Climbing Cows May Help Rangeland Sustainability

Source: The Cattle Site

Most of the 5 million cattle that graze on California’s rangelands like to dine in the valleys and hang out by creeks.

July 27, 2020 Luprino Foods Greeley, Colo., plant recognized for its focus on sustainability

Source: The Fence Post

Leprino Foods Company in Greeley, Colo., has earned a 2020 sustainability award for its outstanding dairy processing and manufacturing, and has been recognized (as one of six dairy businesses across the U.S.) as a...

July 23, 2020 Reform of national dietary guidelines ‘urgently needed’ for health and sustainability

Source: Food Navigator

If the global population adhered to the US or UK’s food based dietary guidelines, food-related emissions would exceed food-system limits for avoiding dangerous levels of climate change by more than three-fold, say researchers.

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