Food Safety Concerns
Anne Levay-Krause recently wrote an overview of the new FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. The FSMA, signed into law in January 2011, is an attempt to focus attention on the prevention of food contamination, rather than after-the-fact containment.
By highlighting the biggest concerns facing consumers, Anne distilled the major points into a useful list and offered up some ideas on how to best avoid issues like foodborne illness and pesticide contamination in your own home:
Global food production has rapidly been consolidated in recent decades, with some troubling results. The takeover of the food industry by a few multinational corporations has radically shifted the focus of food production.
Increased competition and profit over quality has led to cutting corners. It has become such a common practice across all aspects of food production; from waste management to the quality of animal feed to the technical training that farm and food workers receive. The consequences have largely come at the cost of consumers and the safety of their food.
Here are the 5 top consumer food safety concerns that came out of the analysis of the new FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.
A foodborne illness is still the most prevalent risk with food. It’s made even more so by high-density, low-sanitation livestock facilities, among other factory farm practices, which spread disease at a frightening pace.
76 million Americans suffer from food poisoning each year. More than 300,000 people are hospitalized every year for food related illnesses and more than 5,000 of those people die. Of course, this can be mitigated with better education about food safety and preparation, but it could also be mitigated by better practices on the production, processing, and distribution end.
While bacterial and viral contamination that cause foodborne illness are most people’s primary food safety concern, there are also a wide variety of other substances that leech into food and can cause health issues. Heavy metals like lead, mercury, and cadmium are occasionally found in food; ingesting heavy metals can lead to serious cases of poisoning, as well as related diseases like Minamata disease from mercury and Itai-Itai disease from cadmium.
Pesticides are a food contaminant that warrant special mention. Pesticides are used in many agricultural operations, from fruit and vegetable production to animal feeding operations. Exposure to pesticides has been linked to infertility, birth defects, nervous system damage, poisoning, and even cancer. Washing produce is an important way of reducing pesticide exposure, but there are also organic farmers who do not use synthetic pesticides to begin with.
This article orginally appeared on The Land of Peapodriot. It is partially posted here with permission of the author.
Do you think the FDA is doing enough to keep our food system safe?
Photo Credit: FDA
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