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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 14, 2015 Global warming increases 'food shocks' threat

Source: BBC News

Climate change is increasing the risk of severe 'food shocks' where crops fail and prices of staples rise rapidly around the world.

August 14, 2015 GMA petitions FDA for specific uses of trans fat

Lexology - The îGrocery Manufacturers Associationî (GMA) has petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) âto approve specific low-level uses of partially hydrogenated oil (PHOs) in food...

August 14, 2015 Country-of-origin labelling issue still not solved

The Western Producter - U.S. COOL has been shot down by the îWorld Trade Organizationî four times and the American government has been ordered to end the practice by November of this year. The legislation to repeal...

August 13, 2015 Southern states on guard for bird flu, part two - Farmers angry with EPA over a different water issue

Politico - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled in no uncertain terms on Monday that the EPA has taken far too long to respond to the 2007 petition from îPesticide Action Network North Americaî asking...

August 12, 2015 How to Protect Yourself From Junk Food Science

Source: Bloomberg

Does aspartame cause cancer? You’ve probably heard that it might. And PepsiCo removing the artificial sweetener from Diet Pepsi suggests there’s something iffy about it. New Diet Pepsi cans boast that the beverage is “now...

August 12, 2015 India seeks $99 million in damages from Nestle after food scare

Source: Reuters

The Indian government has filed a class action suit for 6.4 billion rupees ($99 million) against Nestle’s Indian unit on behalf of the country’s consumers, citing unfair trade practices and the sale of defective goods

August 10, 2015 Food industry petitions FDA to limit phase-out of artificial trans fats

The Providence Journal - But food companies can still petition to use them sparingly. The îGrocery Manufacturers Associationî, the leading industry group for the food industry, said last week that it is petitioning...

August 10, 2015 Sustainability: Don't waste seafood waste

Source: Nature

Every year, some 6 million to 8 million tonnes of waste crab, shrimp and lobster shells are produced globally — about 1.5 million tonnes in southeast Asia alone1. Whereas 75% of the weight of a tuna fish can be extracted as...

August 10, 2015 Coke is bankrolling health researchers who play down sugar's role in obesity

Source: The Week

There are reputable researchers who argue that America's sedentary lifestyle is more to blame for its obesity epidemic than, say, America's skyrocketing rate of sugar consumption — and, reports Anahad O'Connor at The New York...

August 6, 2015 Americans are dying from contaminated food — but Congress doesn’t seem to care

Source: Raw Story

In 2010, after thousands of Americans were sickened by tainted spinach, peanut butter and eggs, Congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), a sweeping reform bill that gave the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) new...

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