USA, the reasons for the? Food Safety Bill ?: 1 in 6 Americans at risk of intoxication

USA, the reasons for the? Food Safety Bill ?: 1 in 6 Americans at risk of intoxication

On December 22, the United States government released the 2011 forecasts on food poisoning in the 50 states of the federation. It is estimated that, on average, one in six Americans will suffer from a food safety problem. The situation, however, could improve with the application of the new “Food Safety Bill” that President Obama managed to get approved by the Senate on December 19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, based on thousands of analyzes carried out in various laboratories, telephone interviews with consumers and probability calculations, has published two reports according to which in the USA about 48 million people every year are affected by “foodborne illness”, diseases caused by unsafe food , and the consequences are expected to be lethal for around 3,000 people.

The overall risk analysis is only partial, because the responsibilities in food safety are shared between the Ministry of Agriculture – in charge of monitoring agricultural production and primary food processing – and the Food and Drug Administration , and the two administrations. they do not share their respective databases ( food safety ).

The analysis is also made difficult by the fact that in about 38 million cases (4/5 of all food poisonings that occur in a year) the pathogens have not been identified. Pathogens not yet discovered or on which data are scarce, but also chemical substances, are classified as “unspecified agents”. For example, norovirus, which causes about 5.5 million cases of poisoning a year, causes symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea, but as well as through food it can also be transmitted by interpersonal contact. Other intoxications derive from bacteria – including salmonella (1 million cases and 378 deaths in a year) and E. coli (175,000 cases and 20 deaths a year) – or from parasites such as toxoplasma (3.9 millions of cases every year). Listeria, less common but more dangerous, is estimated to cause 1,

The work carried out by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Cdc) is similar to that of the European Rasff system in focusing on the incidence of the various pathogens on the various categories of food, giving useful information to guide the implementation of the new “Food Safety Bill ”towards the specific sectors and risks identified.

We in Europe are well used to it when it comes to food safety. And we owe it to the solid legislation developed starting from the White Paper of the European Commission for food safety (dated 12.1.2000) and to the effective network that the Sanco Directorate General at the European Commission has managed to establish with the health administrations of the States members (in Italy, the Directorate-General for Food Safety and Nutrition) for risk management. We can trust in the registration or authorization of the plants, as well as in the self-control of food sector operators which is carried out through the application of good hygiene practices and the Haccp system (Hazard Analysis on Critical Control Points).

We can also trust in the rigor of official public controls, which see Europe and Italy at the forefront in guaranteeing the compliance of food and feed with the highest standards of consumer health protection. Finally, we are also informed of the emerging risks in the entire Single Market, thanks to the rapid alert system on food, feed and materials in contact ( “Rapid Alert System on Food and Feed”, Rasff ).

Even if the news of some stomach ache from food not quite right had escaped, our system (which includes, in addition to the 27 EU Member States, Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Switzerland) recorded only 557 notifications in 2009 alert. We can sleep peacefully after a good dinner.

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