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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.


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

December 11, 2020 Want Sustainable Seafood? 2021 Will Be The Year We Get Tinned

Source: Mind, Body, Green

Bottom line, whether it's because your pantry likes the convenience, the sustainability factor, or the smashing health benefits, we're predicting our love of tinned fish to reach new heights in 2021.

December 9, 2020 Egg producers need more sustainability guidance

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Egg production is the most environmentally sustainable form of animal protein, but a broader and deeper understanding of production methods would help even more.

December 8, 2020 The Future of Sustainable Food Production Requires Combining Traditional and Tech, says Amanda Little

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Prof. Little argues that the food system is not designed to adapt to major disruptions like COVID-19 and climate change. But, she says, farmers, entrepreneurs, and academics are rethinking food systems to forge a new path forward.

December 7, 2020 Off Grid Toolkit for Sustainable Agriculture

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Called Aladdin Climate, the software has functions for measuring both physical and transition risks for whole portfolios. It is also able to measure the impact of likely and potential policy changes and technology advancements on...

December 4, 2020 “Overseas shipping of strawberries isn’t sustainable at the moment”

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Exporting the strawberries to overseas markets remains difficult, as the rates for airfreight have increased between 40%-80% compared to last year: “The European market will be our focus this season, as it was during the first...

December 2, 2020 Farmers Unveil Holiday Season Food Sustainability Breakthrough

Source: Benzinga

If sustainability is on your family's menu this holiday season, you can sink your teeth into new proof that your feast was farmed more sustainably than ever, thanks to breakthrough research into U.S. cranberry farm practices.

November 25, 2020 Combatting Food Insecurity Takes More Than a Village

Source: Sustainable Brands

In 2019, 10.5 percent or 13.7 million US households — more than one in ten — had low or very low food security.

November 23, 2020 Farmers Are Warming Up To The Fight Against Climate Change

Source: NPR

This week, it announced that it had formed a coalition that plans to push the government to adopt dozens of policy changes that would make it easier for farmers to reduce emissions from agriculture.

November 23, 2020 Viewpoint: Italy’s GMO restrictions cripple efforts to expand sustainable farming

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GMO and GE technologies are complementary and indispensable for the release of new plants able to solve new emergencies that can affect global food security and safety. In several countries, the lack of acceptance of these...

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