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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

January 11, 2019 Study: Coca-Cola Shaped China's Efforts To Fight Obesity

Source: NPR

The Coca-Cola company exerted strong influence over the way the Chinese government addressed the country's growing obesity problem, according to a study published Wednesday in the Journal of Public Health Policy and the BMJ.

January 10, 2019 FDA’s routine food inspections halted amid government shutdown

Source: ArsTechnica

With hundreds of food inspectors furloughed in the ongoing government shutdown, the Food and Drug Administration has suspended all routine inspections of domestic food processing facilities. That’s according to FDA Commissioner...

January 10, 2019 America's cheese problem just hit record numbers

Source: Fox Business

Even though Americans consumed nearly 37 pounds of cheese per capita in 2017, it still wasn’t enough to reduce the country’s more than 1.4 billion pounds of cheese surplus that’s currently sitting in cold storage.

January 9, 2019 About half of adult food allergy claims aren’t even true, study says

Source: NY Post

While as many as 20 percent of American adults believe they’re allergic to one food or another, a new study puts the figure closer to one in 10.

January 7, 2019 The biggest food recall of 2018 is one you still haven’t heard about

Source: New Food Exconomy

How a prepared produce wholesaler quietly recalled 100 million pounds of potentially listeria-contaminated product without the public noticing.

January 4, 2019 2018 may have been the worst food safety year

Source: Produce Blue Book

The produce industry has dealt with other high-profile outbreaks in the past decade or so, but the two E. coli outbreaks – the first tied to fields in Yuma, AZ, around the first of the year and the second was tied to California...

January 3, 2019 Here's Why More People Are Going Vegan For Climate Change

Source: BuzzFeed

Lisa Chalk from Animals Australia told BuzzFeed News that the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released in October last year piqued interest in making individual changes in diet. The IPCC...

January 3, 2019 US unveils rules for GMO labels

Source: Just-Food

The Grocery Manufacturers Association, the trade body for food manufacturers in the US, had called for nationwide rules instead of what it claimed was "a costly and confusing patchwork of different state labelling".

January 2, 2019 Complaints about ‘extraneous materials’ prompt nationwide sausage recall

Source: Food Safety News

Alabama’s R. L. Zeigler Company Inc. recalled more than 11,600 pounds of ready-to-eat (RTE) poultry and meat sausage products Sunday after receiving consumer complaints about extraneous materials, specifically metal, according to...

January 1, 2019 FDA Tells Food Industry to Stop Using Artificial Trans Fats

Source: consumer.healthday.com

Despite this, even savvy consumers still are being exposed to minute levels of trans fats from partially hydrogenated oils, added Susan Mayne, director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. That's because...

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