Food safety has been a big thing in 2014, especially in the USA.
At the beginning of this year, the two brothers who owned Jensen Farms actually served six months each in home detention as a result of the Listeria outbreak on rockmelons a couple of years previously. Interestingly, the prosecution did not have to even prove that the brothers knew that their product was contaminated, just because the rockmelons were distributed with a deadly pathogen was enough for them to be penalised.
This year has marked a major change in the way that food safety has been prosecuted in that country, as the USA is now using the federal criminal law in such cases.
The biggest product recall in US history happened with peanut butter in 2008 and there were nine deaths as part of the more than 700 cases of food poisoning related to it. The recall cost $US1 billion. 2014 marked when the owners and senior managers of the Peanut Corporation of America were indicted on 98 felony counts.
These two court results show that there are very serious implications for food business owners and managers.
Raw milk has also been a big thing this year, both here and in the USA. The debate about whether it should be allowed to be sold is now raging. In the USA, it is legal to sell raw milk in 10 of the 50 states, and the statistics show that over a two year period 81 percent of all food poisoning related to raw milk has occurred in these states.
The other big issue for 2014 actually slipped underneath the radar of the general public, but is a huge concern to government on industry alike. The increasing level of antibiotic resistance in the food industry has experts extremely worried. There is an enormous amount of work being done worldwide to find suitable cost efficient and effective alternatives to ensure minimal flock / herd mortality and still make sure that bacteria are not given the continued opportunity to become immune.
Genetic Engineering (GE) is another of those issues that is generally out of the attention of the majority of the public, but has been causing waves in the USA. It continues to be a major concern to some in the community. The big push is about the labelling of foods that are either GE or contain GE ingredients.
So even though these were the biggest food safety related issues in the USA in 2014, they are well worth looking at in Australia, as there are lessons for us to learn from them.
Written by Rachelle Williams, The Green Food Safety Coach.