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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, 2021 Were the Olympics sustainable? Reports of waste suggest it's not easy being green

Source: The Japan Times

Given the changing shape of the pandemic and the large number of companies and organizations involved, Olympic food waste was inevitable, but it appears there was no alternative plan to deal with the excessive food supply.

August 16, 2021 Wakefern adopts sustainable packaging solutions

Source: The Packer

Wakefern Food Corp., the largest retailer-owned grocery cooperative in the United States is adopting the latest in RPCs (Reusable Plastic Containers) in its Produce department to improve quality, sustainability, and lower costs...

August 13, 2021 NCBA announces Climate Neutrality Goal for Cattle Industry by 2040

Source: Drovers

On Thursday, NCBA announced a plan to address beef sustainability and solidify their commitment to environmental, economic and social sustainability for the U.S. Cattle Industry. The announcement came during the NCBA general...

August 13, 2021 Barry Callebaut spearheads coconut sustainability project with Nestlé and Proforest

Source: Food Ingredients First

Barry Callebaut is launching a scorecard to define and develop sustainable practices in coconut production and address “untackled challenges” across the sector, together with Nestlé and Proforest.

August 11, 2021 Conservation For Sale: Connecting Heartland Farmers with Sustainable Ag

Source: Public News Service

The Center for Rural Affairs is out with new guides that aim to help producers in places like Iowa, who might be curious about implementing practices such as cover crops or no-till farming, know where to turn for reliable...

August 10, 2021 New global genetics business seeks to build a premium and sustainable fresh produce sector

Source: The Packer

“Through unique varieties, our sector can grow high-value premium fresh produce. With this, increased value will be generated for consumers, retailers, growers and communities, and we can help nurture our natural environment...

August 10, 2021 Pinduoduo launches 2021 Smart Agriculture Competition to spearhead agriculture modernization and sustainability

Source: Yahoo Finance

Pinduoduo, China Agricultural University and Zhejiang University jointly announced the launch of the 2021 Smart Agriculture Competition, an agricultural technology competition with the aim of fostering innovation and promoting...

August 9, 2021 The Sunday Times view on sustainable farming: Ministers have shied away from unpalatable truths about food

Source: Sunday Times, London

By 2030 the proportion of agricultural land farmed organically will increase to 7.5 per cent. This would represent progress from the present level of less than 2 per cent, the second lowest in

August 6, 2021 Puerto Rico’s change towards food sustainability

Source: The Denver Channel

Food scarcity is an ongoing problem for Puerto Rico. The territory imports 85% of all its food.

August 6, 2021 Everything you need to know about sustainable seafood - text/video

Source: ABC News

From deck to dock to dinner table, it is easier than ever to source fresh seafood that's traceable, trusted and encourages a healthier food system.

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