Food import controls

  • Food safetyImplementing new food safety measure hampered by lack of funding

    Roughly forty-eight million Americans have food-borne illness each year, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 128,000 of them are hospitalized, and 3,000 die. The cost of treatment and lost income is $15 billion a year or more, according to data from the Agriculture Department.When Congress passed the 2010 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) to give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) new powers to prevent food outbreaks, however, it failed adequately to fund the agency, thereby diminishing its ability to implement new regulations and inspection powers on food producers and foreign suppliers.

  • Food safetyFood safety specialists hope new tracking approach will lead to better intervention

    Estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show these four pathogens cause 1.9 million cases of foodborne illness in the United States each year. A new partnership to improve food safety and better track foodborne illness is an approach that food safety specialists say will lead to better intervention strategies.

  • Food safetyObama proposes a single federal agency to monitor, enforce food safety standards

    Some eighty-seven million Americans are sickened each year by food contamination, 371,000 are hospitalized with food-related illness, and 5,700 die from food-related disease. The GAO says that the country’s food safety system is “high-risk” because of “inconsistent oversight, ineffective coordination, and inefficient use of resources.” At least fifteen different government agencies have some role in approving the foods Americans eat. The White House proposes having a single agency — the Food Safety Administration, housed within HHS — “provide focused, centralized leadership, a primary voice on food safety standards and compliance with those standards.”

  • Food safetyA computer program would track food, ingredients in packaged food, imported into U.S.

    Scientists at University of Minnesota’s National Center for Food Protection and Defense(NCFPD) are developing a computer program called CRISTAL, which could allow the government and private sector to map the supply chain of every product imported into the United States, from mobile phones to car seats to the ingredients in packaged foods. The USDA already monitors some aspects of the nation’s food safety, but DHS is particularly interested in CRISTAL because of increasing terror threats to the nation’s food supply.

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  • Food safetyUSDA plans to expand private meat inspection scheme despite criticism

    The USDA’s plan to expand a pilot program which shifts responsibility from government inspectors at meat processing plants to private or company-employed inspectors has faced skepticism and criticism. The pilot plan was supposed to be evaluated, but the USDA Inspector General reported that the department has yet to study the effectiveness of the plan in improving food safety and efficiency in the plants. Critics say the replacement of government inspectors has led to an increase in the number of instances of contaminated meat in the U.S. plants which have adopted the plan – and also in the Canadian and Australian meat plant where the scheme has been implemented.

  • Food safetyNew food fraud database launched

    DHS defines food fraud as the deliberate substitution, addition, tampering, or misrepresentation of food, food ingredients, or food packaging, or false or misleading statements made about a product for economic gain; a new database compiles thousands of food fraud reports; the most fraud-prone foods: olive oil, milk, and honey

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  • Food safetyCDC: outbreaks linked to imported foods increasing

    U.S. food imports grew from $41 billion in 1998 to $78 billion in 2007; as much as 85 percent of the seafood eaten in the United States is imported, and depending on the time of the year, up to 60 percent of fresh produce is imported; the increase in imported food has been accompanied by an increase in foodborne illnesses, with fish and spices the most common sources

  • Food securityNew wheat strain could ease food shortages

    Researchers in Australia have developed a new strain of salt-tolerant wheat that could help minimize food shortages

  • Invasive speciesU.S. faces new wave of invasive species

    New study warns that the earlier onset of spring, warmer winters, economic globalization, and increased trade with emerging economies in Asia and Africa will see the United States face a significant new wave of invasive plant introductions; at least forty-two emerging U.S. trade partners – among them Thailand, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Ecuador, Argentina, and several in equatorial Africa — are poised to export new nursery plant varieties to the United States

  • Food safetyFocus on terrorism allowed foreign pests to slip into U.S.

    Following the 9/11 attacks the U.S. government assigned hundreds of agricultural scientists responsible for stopping invasive species at the border to anti-terrorism duties; the result has been that dozens of foreign insects and plant diseases managed to slip undetected into the United States

  • Food safetyFDA unveils new outbreak response network

    Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration unveiled its new streamlined approach for responding to foodborne illness outbreaks; under the “CORE” Network, the FDA Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation Network, the FDA will bring together multidisciplinary teams consisting of epidemiologists, veterinarians, microbiologists, environmental health specialists, emergency coordinators, and risk communications specialists

  • China pushes for food security at G20 agriculture meeting

    At a G20 meeting of agricultural ministers, Chinese officials urged their counterparts to address food security; China said addressing market volatility and food security is a top priority and that leaders should come to an agreement on how to handle soaring food prices; in recent years natural disasters, increases in demand, international speculation, and the increased use of biofuels have all caused food prices to spike

  • AgroterrorismRisk of agroterrorism growing

    The United States imports so much of its food and food ingredients from other countries, that terrorists have many more opportunities to harm Americans and damage the U.S. economy; a high FDA official said that increased U.S. attention to the issue and questions over whether hostile actors have the technical capacity to mount such an attack notwithstanding, the likelihood of being poisoned by intentionally contaminated food is growing

  • The food we eatFDA looks for ways to fund $1.4 billion Food Safety Reform Act

    Food-borne illness strikes 40 million Americans, hospitalizing 100,000, and killing thousands each year; on 4 January President Obama signed the long-awaited FDA Food Safety and Modernization Act into law — sweeping legislation that overhauls U.S. food-safety laws for the first time in more than seventy years; the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated the food-safety law would cost about $1.4 billion in its first five years, including the cost of hiring an estimated 2,000 additional food inspectors; the passage of the legislation now presents FDA with the question of how to procure the funding required to implement and enforce the new system

  • The food we eatNew U.S. food safety law goes into effect

    On 15 December the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued its first estimate since 1999 of the toll of food-borne diseases in the United States: 48 million people sick each year, 128,000 hospitalized, and 3000 deaths; in the biggest overhaul of food safety in the United States since the 1930s, President Barack Obama yesterday signed a law giving the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) more power to inspect and shut down food producers yesterday, President Obama; critics say the law does not go far enough