How to get a safer food supply 11/12
(This article is adapted from the Autumn 2012 Consumer Reports Insider)
Consider this disturbing news: one in six Americans will get sick from food borne illness this year. Recent outbreaks of listeria in cantaloupes, E. coli in spinach, and salmonella in lettuce and peanut butter have threatened the nation’s food supply.
Despite the severity and life-threatening nature of these occurrences, we almost seem to accept them as inevitable. But things don’t have to be this way.
To solve these persistent problems and to ensure that all consumers have access to safe and sustainable food, Consumer Reports launched a Food Safety and Sustainability initiative in 2011. This comprehensive program is designed to improve the safety, quality, and sustainability of America’s food supply.
The cost: $10 million over five years
So far the Consumer Reports food safety team of experts have specifically focused on: removing hazardous chemicals and contaminants from the food marketplace; preventing dangerous imported food from reaching our borders; expanding the inspection of domestic food production and processing plants; and speedily removing recalled food from store shelves.
The group is harnessing all of the scientific and organizational assets at Consumer Reports – testing, research, survey data, investigative reporting, and public outreach---all to bring about important change.
"We recently had an impact on the issue of arsenic and lead in kids’ juices and in rice," said Dr. Urvashi Rangan, director of the consumer safety and sustainability team. "In response, the Food and Drug Administration has said it would consider issuing guidance and increase its surveillance."
Dr. Rangan recently appeared on several TV programs to explain the group’s findings from an investigation of arsenic in popular rice products and what consumers can do about it. Watch ABC News video.
"The next five years are only the beginning," says Dr. Rangan, "because changing the marketplace and regulation in the food arena takes a lot of time and effort. Wins don’t happen overnight, but often require years of championing. And new issues are always emerging. Our ultimate goal is to improve the food supply over the long term and help consumers make better choices."
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