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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

March 19, 2019 Sugary drinks linked to increased risk of death, study suggests

Source: USA Today

A study published Monday in the American Heart Association journal Circulation found an association between people who consume sugary drinks and an increased risk of death. The observational study found adults who consumed more...

March 19, 2019 Tyson Foods and cloud-based tech: The next frontier for reaching sustainability goals

Source: EDF.org

Tyson Foods – the largest meat producer in the United States and exporter of food to more than 100 nations – is stepping up in a new area: cloud-based insights that can benefit the environment, farm finances and Tyson's...

March 18, 2019 1 million pounds of pork seized at US border amid deadly Chinese outbreak

Source: Fox News

U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized around 1 million pounds of pork at the Newark Port or Entry on Friday, in what authorities are calling the largest agricultural bust in U.S. history.

March 18, 2019 Eating our way to a sustainable future

Source: Harvard Gazette

But “eating seafood” today means something different than it did just a few generations ago, Greenberg said. Instead of diets varying depending on locally available fish, recent decades have seen seafood becoming standardized,...

March 15, 2019 Butterball recalls nearly 80,000 pounds of ground turkey after 5 people sickened

Source: ABC News

North Carolina-based poultry producer Butterball, LLC is voluntarily recalling approximately 78,164 pounds of raw ground turkey products that may have been contaminated with Salmonella, according to an announcement Wednesday from...

March 12, 2019 More than 12,000 cases of Pillsbury flour recalled over salmonella concerns

Source: CNN

Hometown Food Company issued a voluntary recall for select Pillsbury Unbleached All Purpose Flour products, amid concerns they may be contaminated with salmonella, the US Department of Agriculture said.

March 11, 2019 USDA and FDA Agree to Regulate Cell-Cultured Food Products

Source: NewsOK

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service and the Food and Drug Administration will jointly oversee the production of lab-grown meat products. According to the ...

March 9, 2019 Starbucks and Monsanto Sue Vermont

Source: Snopes.com

TRUE: Starbucks is a member of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, a group challenging Vermont over GMO labeling requirements. FALSE: Starbucks has joined forces with Monsanto to sue the state of Vermont over GMO labeling...

March 7, 2019 Some food-borne illnesses increasing

Source: The Seattle Times

deputy director of the CDC’s Division of Food-borne, Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases. Since 1996, the agency has been collecting data from 10 states on the number of people diagnosed with infections caused by eight ...

March 6, 2019 Viewpoint: Anti-GMO Organic Consumers Association helps Russia spread dangerous myths raising fake concerns about vaccines and biotechnology

Source: Genetic Literacy Project

Russian trolls are meddling wherever and whenever they can to cause societal strife. Radio Free Europe reports that Russian trolls may have contributed to the massive measles outbreak in Europe ...

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