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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 16, 2018 California may backtrack on coffee cancer warning labels

Source: LABTimes

The state agency in charge of regulating harmful chemicals in food and other products recently stated that coffee poses no significant risk of cancer.

August 16, 2018 With half the planet saved for nature, will we have enough to eat?

Source: Anthropocene Magazine

The idea of devoting half of Earth’s terrestrial surface to rich, intact forms of nature has stirred conservationist imaginations in the last few years. It’s an inspiring vision, simple yet powerful, a bright aspiration amidst...

August 14, 2018 Jury Finds Monsanto Liable in the First Roundup Cancer Trial – Here’s What Could Happen Next

Source: EcoWatch

In the first of many pending lawsuits to go to trial, a jury in San Francisco concluded on Aug. 10 that the plaintiff had developed cancer from exposure to Roundup, Monsanto's widely used herbicide, and ordered the company to pay...

August 8, 2018 Romaine Lettuce Outbreak: FDA Identifies Cattle Operation Near Contaminated Canal Water

Source: Food Safety Magazine

Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with the newly formed Leafy Greens Food Safety Task Force, met for 2 days to share preliminary hypotheses from the Environmental Assessment in the Yuma, AZ, growing...

August 8, 2018 Chipotle faces second lawsuit after 703 people fall ill in Ohio

Source: Fox News

A Chipotle restaurant in Ohio is facing a second lawsuit after 703 people reportedly fell ill after eating at the burrito chain.

August 7, 2018 GMOs are better for the environment than you’d think

Source: Salon

Studies show that choosing to farm either non-GM or GM crops doesn’t make much difference when it comes to sustainability. And in both aspects, biodiversity and productivity, GM agriculture has been performing better than non-GM...

August 3, 2018 Chipotle's new management still has the old problem: Food safety

Source: CNBC

While analysts have maintained their confidence in the brand, keeping outperform ratings and even upgrading the stock, it seems that investors remain queasy. On Tuesday, shares of the company were down more than 7 percent.

August 3, 2018 TRADER JOE'S AND KROGER ARE RECALLING SALADS, WRAPS OVER AN INTESTINAL PARASITE

Source: Thrillist

Trader Joe's, Kroger, and Walgreen's are all involved in the recall of over 25 salad and wrap products. The US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service warned the public on Monday that certain products may...

August 2, 2018 Chicken Makes People Sick More Than Any Other Food

Source: Men's Health

Chicken may be a healthy protein source for most people, but it also causes the most outbreak-associated illnesses of any food, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

August 2, 2018 Lawsuit claims Walmart stole technology to keep produce fresh

Source: Fox Business

Zest Labs and its parent filed a $2 billion complaint on Wednesday saying Walmart's "Eden" technology to preserve fruit and vegetable freshness "looks, sounds, and functions" like its own Zest Fresh technology, according to...

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